ON THIS DATE (38 YEAR AGO)
May 10, 1974 – Bill Wyman: Monkey Grip is released.
# ALL THINGS MUSIC PLUS+ 4/5
# allmusic 4/5
# Rolling Stone (see original review below)
The album Monkey Grip by Bill Wyman was released on this date in May, 1974 on Rolling Stones Records.
For this solo debut, Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman amassed a band full of heavy friends, among them Leon Russell, Lowell George, Dr John and Danny Kootch. But the real star was Bill Wyman himself, with his songwriting talents unleashed for the first time to prove that there were more than two great composers in the Rolling Stones’ line-up. Single mixes and studio leftovers ensure that this is the definitive version of this album.
Recorded while he was still very much a member of the Rolling Stones, Monkey Grip was bassist Bill Wyman’s first solo album. Released in May 1974, it was recorded with a star-studded session band that included names like Lowell George, Dr John, Leon Russell, Danny Kortchmar, and Dallas Taylor.
ORIGINAL ROLLING STONE REVIEW
In a recent edition of Chip Monck’s TV show, Speakeasy, guest Bill Wyman expressed his disappointment in having commanded so little attention as a Rolling Stone. All the public knew from this mysterious-looking fellow, aside from those bass lines, was the eerie “In Another Land” from Their Satanic Majesties Request (the aficionados might have heard his production of Tucky Buzzard). No longer seeming the type whose avocation is haunting houses, Wyman on Speakeasy came off as an amiable bloke who sought a little recognition for his new LP, pronouncing himself “ecstatic” over the way it turned out, but would never think of singing or leading a band before an audience.
Monkey Grip is catchy and ably performed, but it is this combination of shyness and amiability which yields less than earthshaking results. The author feels confined by the anonymity his band imposes on him, but is not about to declare himself a solo artist. Wyman’s unremarkable vocals are subordinated to the overall texture of any cut, while the songs themselves, mostly upbeat, entertaining and well crafted, traffic in the staples of current styles. Wyman comes through most strongly as an arranger and producer, able to contribute colorful flourishes to most songs and concoct a uniformly creamy sound.
The largely macho lyrics do not let us forget that Wyman is also a Stone, but they always seem to be meant half in jest and do nothing to darken their sunny musical settings. “I Wanna Get Me a Gun” is just such a case. A winning New Orleans romp, it features a rippling, change-of-pace piano solo by Dr. John. “Monkey Grip Glue” has a similarly transparent tough-guy stance. The rapid repetition of the title halfway into the song provides a cheery little fillip. “Pussy” is bluegrass and is as hot as any of the rock present. The C&W “White Lightnin'” is a less successful tip of the hat to Americana. The latter, plus “Crazy Woman” and “I’ll Pull You Thro’,” strike me as natural vehicles for Ringo Starr. Not the least virtue of this modestly conceived but likable album is the good use to which the dulcet Boneroo Horn Section (which has backed Dr. John) and the deft, eager guitar of Danny Kortchmar have been put. (RS 168)
~ BEN GERSON (August 29, 1974)
All tracks composed by Bill Wyman, except where noted.
1 I Wanna Get Me a Gun 4:57
2 Crazy Woman 2:41
3 Pussy 2:10
4 Mighty Fine Time 3:36
5 Monkey Grip Glue 4:56
6 What a Blow (Wyman, Malcolm Rebenack) 5:22
7 White Lightnin’ 2:42
8 I’ll Pull You Thro’ 4:23
9 It’s a Wonder 5:30
10 Wine and Wimmen [Instrumental] 3:42
11 It’s Just a Matter of Time 3:03
12 If You’ve Got The Feelin’ 3:39
13 Five Card Stud 3:47
14 Monkey Grip Glue [Single Edit] 3:18
15 What a Blow [Single Edit] (Bill Wyman/M. Rebenack) 3:46
16 White Lightnin’ [Single Edit] 2:44
17 Pussy [Single Mix] 2:11