Ronnie Wood & His Wild Five / Ron Wood

Mad Lad: A Live Tribute to Chuck Berry

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Like the rest of the Rolling Stones, Ronnie Wood had his life changed by Chuck Berry, so it's fitting that he decided to release a tribute album to his idol. Recorded at Wimborne Tivoli Theatre on November 13, 2018 and released nearly a year later, Mad Lad: A Live Tribute to Chuck Berry finds Wood playing with His Wild Five, a band featuring pianist Ben Waters and vocalist Imelda May. Wood kicks off the proceedings with "Tribute to Chuck Berry," a shambling, funny salute that is good-natured and filled with dad jokes that are just this side of embarrassing. Wood avoids "Dear Dad" along with many other modernist rockers from Berry, preferring to play the blues. "Talkin' 'Bout You" helps get the set off to a cooking start, "Almost Grown" and "Back in the USA" anchor the middle, and "Rock N Roll Music" and "Johnny B. Goode" bring things to a rousing close, but the long-ish jams on "Wee Wee Hours," "Blue Feeling," and "Worried Life Blues" give Mad Lad a bit of a relaxed, after-hours vibe. Berry didn't always play in this fashion -- certainly, if he was headlining a club, it was a crapshoot whether you'd get a good gig -- and there's a slight de-emphasis on his lyrical genius, but that's fine. It's clear that Ronnie Wood & His Wild Five love playing this music and that palpable joy makes Mad Lad a fine time.

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