Ronnie Wood celebrates 40 years of debut solo album

Patrick Barry, [email protected]@washburn.edu is a senior anthropology major

If you have never heard of Ronnie Wood, then you know little about rock ‘n’ roll. He is regarded as one of the most talented axe-men of his generation. He has been a member of The Jeff Beck Group, The Faces, The New Barbarians, Rod Stewart’s solo projects, and The Rolling Stones. He has also been a featured guest at live performances ranging from The Last Waltz to Eric Clapton’s Rainbow Concert. His debut album, “I’ve Got My Own Album To Do,” which Wood recorded at his house, turned 40 years old this September.

The album itself is an impressive set of rock ‘n’ roll tracks, but the legend and lore behind the music is what makes the album even more mythical. For a start, the album marks the first great collaboration between Wood and Keith Richards. Since 1974, the two have been rock ‘n’ roll soul mates that literally speak to each other through their guitars to the extent that any concert is more or less a playful debate.

According to Wood, Richards ended up at Woods’ house while Wood was making the album after a night spent out at a bar. One inebriated evening turned into four months with Richards as a roommate. One night together recording parts for “I’ve Got My Own Album To Do” was the catalyst for the partnership that now defines the sound of The Rolling Stones after ’75.

Rod Stewart, Ian McLagan and Kenney Jones, who were band mates with Wood in The Faces were guests on the album. Wood partnered with George Harrison on slide guitar for the track “Far East Man.” Wood recalls that Keith Moon and Ringo Starr showed up to play one night, but the drum kit had been sent away to be repaired. Wood taught the two legendary British rock drummers how to properly play an E chord on guitar.

David Bowie and Mick Jagger both lent help on the vocals of “I Can Feel the Fire.” Jagger helped Wood arrange the song and after the track was laid down, Jagger asked for Wood’s help on a new Rolling Stones song, “It’s Only Rock and Roll.” The first recording of the song featured Wood, Jagger, Jones, and Bowie.

Richards later recorded his own guitar tracks, but Wood’s 12-string can still be heard on the record. Mick Taylor played as a guest on the album as well and after his departure from The Rolling Stones in 1975, Wood filled in and has been sitting in ever since.

In one sense, the album is a tribute to the genius and talent for collaboration of Wood. The album is also only short of being a Ronnie Wood album with The Rolling Stones as his backing band by Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts.

The opening track, “I Can Feel the Fire,” starts the album off with a bang featuring a line-up that most super groups fail to achieve. The track “Act Together” showcases what Wood could do with a Jagger and Richards song.

The final track on the A side of the LP, “Am I Grooving You,” is a heavy blues fueled song that fits Wood’s guitar skills, vocal qualities, and harmonica together in a package that remains a steady live number for Wood.

After 40 years, “I’ve Got My Own Album To Do” has held its value. In retrospect, it is mind-blowing to think that a single guitar player’s first solo attempt would trigger the quintessential classic rock guitar partnership and predict the post ’75 evolutionary trajectory of The Rolling Stones.

If you dare call yourself a true fan of The Rolling Stones, don’t be caught dead without this album in your collection. While you’re at it, check out some of Wood’s impressive paintings.