By Pat Prince
Bill Wyman and The Rolling Stones were creatively joined again when they all contributed to the Ian Stewart tribute album called “Boogie 4 Stu.” The album was arranged and produced by boogie-woogie pianist Ben Waters and released earlier last year.
Wyman came to the studio as the last Stone to participate, and, in some places, overdubbing bass parts that were already done. Besides playing on Amos Milburn’s “Rooming House Boogie,” Wyman put down his bass to a full Stones recording of Dylan’s “Watching the River Flow.” It may be a historic event. Mick, Keith, Charlie and Ronnie were together with Bill Wyman again — recording separately but joined on the same track, perhaps for the very last time.
“I had one track that didn’t have bass on it, ready for Bill. So we went into the Chapel Studios in London. He put the bass to that and said ‘Right. Next tune!’ And I thought, we only got one. What do I do now? I didn’t want to upset him or anything. I was really pleased he was doing it. So I said ‘What other ones do you want to do?’ And he said ‘What about “Watching the River Flow? I like that one.’ But all the Stones were already on that. I said to him, ‘All the Stones are on that one. I better tell you they’re all on there, just in case there’s something contractually you can’t do. He said there was no problem as far as he was concerned. So I phoned up the Stones office, and there was no problem. So. really, it was just a magical thing. They all came back together after 18 years for Stu.”
The finished Stones version of “Watching the River Flow” sounds refreshing. The Stones have not sounded this roots-flavored since Stewart was involved with the band. Nothing could be a better tribute to their friend.