Bill Wyman

Bill Wyman

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After a pair of solo efforts that veered from eccentric yet inspired (Monkey Grip) to eccentric and uninspired (Stone Alone), Bill Wyman perfected his blend of rock & roll and oddball humor into one solid album on 1981's Bill Wyman. Instead of utilizing the all-star group of backup musicians that dominated his previous solo outings, Bill Wyman found the veteran rocker handling much of the instrumentation himself, with only a rhythm section and a few guest stars pitching in. The result is a crisp, consistent sound that mixes the electronic edge of new wave with good, old-fashioned rock & roll production values. Bill Wyman also benefits from catchy, well-written songs that provide a hook-laden backdrop for Wyman's humorous musings: "A New Fashion" is a witheringly acidic send-up of trend-chasing pop stars that layers a memorably melodic chorus over an effectively sparse electronic backdrop, and "Come Back Suzanne" is a one-of-a-kind rock/disco/new wave hybrid that blends power chords with ethereal synth flourishes as Wyman delivers a tongue-in-cheek tale of lost love. Other highlights include "Jump Up," a catchy combination of ska and funk with amusing party-hearty lyrics, and "Girls," a snarling rocker with campy, macho lyrics that could be read as a parody of the Rolling Stones' long line of carnal rock songs. However, the album's masterpiece is "Si, Si, Je Suis Un Rock Star," a deliriously strange but quite funny song that features Wyman delivering a lusty travelogue in a deadpan voice over a backing track that mixes Spanish guitars with burbling synth disco. Ultimately, one's level of interest in Bill Wyman will depend on their love of eccentric humor, but no one can deny that it effectively combines solid songwriting and a sleek, consistent production style. As a result, Bill Wyman is worthwhile listen for classic rock fans who don't mind a little idiosyncratic humor mixed in with their rock & roll.

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