Willie And The Poor Boys – Same (1985)

FrontCover1With Mick Jagger and Keith Richards bickering back and forth in the press during the mid-’80s (leading many to assume that the Stones were kaput), bassist Bill Wyman decided to fill up his newly acquired spare time by forming an all-star band, Willie and the Poor Boys. The group’s roots lay in the series of high-profile 1983 ARMS Concerts (which raised money for multiple sclerosis research), which led to several of the tour’s participants taking it a step further and laying down some tracks in the studio. Included in this stellar lineup were Wyman’s Stones mates Ron Wood and Charlie Watts, as well as Jimmy Page, Mel Collins, Andy Fairweather Low, Kenny Jones, and Ringo Starr, among others, while Wyman also served as the album’s producer. The resulting 1985 self-titled album was a pleasant enough set of 12 rock & roll/R&B standards (including “Baby Please Don’t Go,” which a promo video was filmed for), but certainly not anything musically earth-shattering. (by Greg Prato)

These were not academic sessions made to bring some new light to bear on nuggets of rock and soul’s golden age. They are what they are: a great group of players who could care less — on either of these dates — about showing off their individual chops, but in simply getting together for real fun playing the music that drew them in the first place. As such, these loose, raggedy, blast-off albums work here shockingly well. Paul Rodgers’ guest vocals on Otis Redding’s “These Arms of Mine,” and Little Richard’s “Slippin’ and Slidin'” (with killer roots guitar work from Jimmy Page), are among the most convincing of Rodgers’ career.


Likewise, moody rocker Chris Rea’s vocal read of “Baby Please Don’t Go,” is astonishing. Geraint Watkins, known by many as Van Morrison’s keyboard ace (and producer of Tres Chicas) turns in a killer lead vocal on “Saturday Night” and “Chicken Shack Boogie,” (not bad for a guy who everybody thought couldn’t sing). Ray Cooper, percussionist to the stars — and some regular blokes, too — sings his skinny ass off on Lee Dorsey’s nugget “Can You Hear Me?.” But it’s not just the singers who provide satisfaction here. Guitarists Andy Fairweather Low and Mickey Gee are killer throughout. The horn section of Steve Gregory and Willie Garnet add heft and weight to this entire orgy of rock and rhythm. Speaking of rhythm, the drummers here are none other than fellow Rolling Stone Charlie Watts, ex-Faces and Who drummer Kenney Jones, Eric Clapton skinman Henry Spinetti, and Rockpile’s rhythm ace Terry Williams. These cats push the proceedings into the red, with splattering hi hat work and popping snares. With Wyman manning the bass with finger-popping groove and grit, guests in the chair were utterly unnecessary. Fairweather Low is also a smashing vocalist, as evidenced on a burning read of Hudson Whittaker’s “Let’s Talk It Over (Don’t You Lie to Me).” The awesome thing about the set, brief as it is, is that despite the many players, it sounds like a band, a whole band, experienced, rehearsed, and smashing.


The final and title cut on the Poor Boy Boogie studio album is a great pastiche/medley written by Wyman. Lyrics from all the songs are used and so are themes; it’s a seamless, wooly monster. The remastering job is terrific and if ever there were a record to take the roots sound and make it fun again, this is it. (by Thom Jurek)

Hey boys and girls … let´s have some fun tonight !

Bill Wyman

Andy Fairweather-Low (guitar, vocals)
Mickey Gee (guitar)
Geraint Watkins (keyboards, vocals)
Charlie Watts (drums)
Bill Wyman (bass, vocals)
Ray Cooper (percussion)
Willie Garnett (horns)
Steve Gregory (horns)
Kenney Jones (drums)
Jimmy Page (guitar on 06.)
Chris Rea (vocals on 01.)
Paul Rodgers (vocals on 03. + 06.)
Henry Spinetti (drums)
Terry Williams (drums)


01. Baby Please Don’t Go (Williams) 2.37
02. Can You Hear Me (Toussaint) 3.13
03. These Arms Of Mine (Redding) 3.31
04. Revenue Man (White Lightening) (Richardson) 2.35
05. You Never Can Tell (Berry) 3.54
06. Slippin’ And Slidin’ (Collins/Bocage/Smith/Penniman) 2.33
07. Saturday Night (Brown) 2.51
08. Let’s Talk It Over (Whittaker) 2.58
09. All Night Long (Chenier) 2.31
10. Chicken Shack Boogie (Milburn/Cullum) 3.12
11. Sugar Bee (Shuler) 3.12
12. Poor Boy Boogie (Fairweather-Low/Wyman) 3.26