Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Give the Drummer Some

The great Charlie Watts -- pictured here with some other grizzled geezer I don't recognize -- turned 74 years young yesterday.

I should add -- as long time readers are aware -- that one of the treasures of my tchotchke collection is a 1991 reissue of Charlie's utterly charming 1964 kids book about Charlie Parker.

Ode to a High Flying Bird.

As you can see, the illustrations are in the same wonderful cartoon style as the ones Watts contributed to The Stones' Between the Buttons album. The book itself came into my possession as a record company promo; Our hero was touring with his big (jazz) band, and whatever label put out the accompanying CD included this as a bonus for press geeks like myself.

Of course, my copy is personally autographed, thanks to a colleague who got to interview Watts at the time. And needless to say, I am rather insufferably pleased to have this one.

More to the point -- happy birthday, Charlie!


Anonymous said...

And looking every bit of 74:-) He's appears so frail these days that it kinda surprises me that he can go a two-hour concert. A lot of drummers need chiropractors. I wonder if Charlie's ever used one.

Of course he's solid as a rock and always just at the edge of the beat. I dunno, I can't really explain it, but when I watch Charlie play, his body has a way of seeming out of time with what he's playing. It's a kind of staid awkwardness. Or some kind of Zen.

For me, his drumming since the late Seventies hasn't been as interesting as what came before. I find him getting into that "Summer Romance"/"Respectable" groove too much. But shit, his early work with Wyman is really great. They swing.

VR - Speaking of gracefully growing older, "Robert Plantation and the Sensation" were wonderful last night at the Greek. JD McPherson was a great opener, even though I wished we woulda got the Pixies.

Anonymous said...

Wow. No love for morose Charlie?

OK, a long time ago Vicky Vinyl put out a bootleg by her favorite band entitled "Hot Pants and Wet Panties." That kinda summed up the way she felt about the Stones. It was an audience tape that exposed the mediocrity of that 1976 European Tour. And I'm being generous here.

Recorded on Charlie's 35th birthday 1976-06-02, the band did two shows that night in Koln. This record featured the late show, an uninspired and sloppy affair. Mick sings "Happy Birthday" to Charlie during the band intros. After the initial rubber stamped pressing, Vicky re-titled it "Happy Birthday Charlie."

It didn't even come close to her Idle Mind Records "Charlie Watts and His Fabulous Rolling Stones" release, which was recorded by Mike Millard at the 1975 Forum stand. For those of you who don't have the original bootleg vinyl, here's a little excerpt from the "liner notes." I think you might be amused.

"... Idle Mind Productions
Turned up to steal the show
Honky Tonk Women came
Reaching down below
Instantly the lights went dim
Came that familiar sound
Vicky Vinyl flipped the switch
And tapes went 'round and 'round

Ready in the rear he sat
drumming out the beat
CHARLIE WATTS his hands on fire
handling the heat..."

The Stones finally got a clue and released this show in 2012 as L.A. Friday, even though the lion's share of it was from the Sunday show. I went to all five shows at the Forum on that run. As I recall and IMO, the Friday and Sunday shows were the best. But it sure couldn't touch 1969 or 1972.

VR - Gotta run and see what Tongue Rodgren has to offer this time 'round.