Ronnie Wood has long been associated with some of the biggest names in Rock, from Jeff Beck early in his career, Rod Stewart and The Faces soon after and The Rolling Stones for the past 35 years. Toward the end of his Faces stint, Wood decided to test the solo waters with his better than average 1974 debut, I’ve Got My Own Album to Do. Wood clearly traded on his reputation as one of the sterling guitarists in the business, and while his vocal prowess was not quite on a par with his playing he sang with a boozy passion that made up for his lack of technical skill. My Own Album did fairly well as a result.
Wood might have gone on to a respectable solo career if Mick Taylor had decided to stay with The Rolling Stones, but when he split Wood’s old pal Keith Richards invited him to join, and he’s remained in the Stones’ second guitar slot ever since.
Over the past three and a half decades, Wood has maintained a solo presence, although his last three albums (not counting live sets and compilations) have been released in intervals of no less than 10 years; 1234 in 1981, Slide on This in 1992, Not for Beginners in 2002.
For I Feel Like Playing, his first studio album in eight years, Wood stacks the deck with guests like Z.Z. Top guitarist Billy Gibbons, Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea, Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder, ex-Faces keyboardist Ian McLagan and icons Kris Kristofferson and Bobby Womack, among many others. Coupled with some of the best songs Wood has penned or co-penned in a long time, I Feel Like Playing stands as a highlight in his solo catalog.
The album starts off slowly with the sedate melodic Blues of “Why You Wanna Go and Do a Thing Like That For,” a song that seems to be aimed at Ekaterina Ivanova, the girlfriend who left him this year after of domestic assault incident last Christmas, and the Reggae/Rock lope of “Sweetness.” Wood begins to emerge, peeling off muscular riffs that hearken back to his Faces days on “Lucky Man” and exhibiting the Stonesian chug and swagger that he’s perfected over the years on “Thing About You” and “I Don’t Think So.” Even Wood’s take on Willie Dixon’s overly traveled Blues chestnut “Spoonful” seems fresh and vigorous.
Wood has typically held back a few gems for his solo releases. With I Feel Like Playing, it feels like he’s finally put together an entire album’s worth.