Old Dog New Tricks
in the First Degree
Take Me Back
Chose To Be
Much, Too Little, Too Late
Time I Roll
Do It Here
June 1, 2004
always a thing to behold when the worlds' greatest rock and roll
band roll into The Garden. It's as if the venue and The Stones were
made for each other. It could be a 14-degree December night outside,
but when Mick and the lads are center stage it's as hot as a muggy
night in Gainesville. And so there they were mid-concert and Jagger
slurs, "Ai'd like to change me trousers, bit moist from all
the runnin' about, not noice, is it? So Ai'd like to bring out a
good friend of ours to do a number, Gary U.S. Bonds!"
Ronnie Wood and Charlie Watts kick it off and, as Mick dances away
stage left, Gary walks tall toward the mike passing Keith who smiles
that smile, and strums his guitar simultaneously. With a funky Bayou
beat boiling, Gary nods to the grinning Woody and sings, "She
got a roof that don't leak
." and wham, bam, they
are off!! It's Gary and The Stones, a match made in the Memphis
section of heaven.
Time I Roll The Dice," a funky delta groove, drips over the
20,000 standing, dancing fans. Bonds, Bobby Keys and the horn section,
the backup singers and The Stones kick this "nasty round the
edges" blues rocker through the round roof. It's a twenty-first
century version of "Honky Tonk Woman" meets "Let
It Bleed" interpreted by a cat who was innovating before the
Stones were a band all those years ago. Then before the purists
in the crowd can remember just which Stones album this gem comes
from it's over and the crowd roars their delight and approval. Moved
by their overwhelming response, Bonds pounds his hand on his chest
and nods toward the balcony. Then the smiling Richards and Wood
surround and hug him. Wearing fresh trousers Jagger returns to center
stage to say, "Gary U.S. Bonds." The crowd roars again,
Gary bows, waves his right arm in the air, runs over for a quick
hand shake with Charlie Watts and is off stage as The Stones kick
into "It's Only Rock And Roll."
That was the scene in my head when I heard "Every Time I Roll
The Dice," not from a Stones LP, but from Bonds' CD, "Back
In Twenty." That was my rock fantasy and I'm sharing it with
you in an attempt to convey in words what that song sounds like.
I trust you get the picture and there's more good news, it's only
one of a dozen must-be-heard tunes on this CD. It comes in at track
11. Now I don't know how they arrived at the sequencing, but back
in the day we used to arrange songs in descending order. In other
words the tune we thought was the best was the first cut, and down
the line to the last song. This killer, "Every Time I Roll
The Dice" comes in at 11. Could the songs that precede it be
Fact is, some really are and the rest are equal!
So Mick, Charlie, Keith, Woody, and Bobby aren't really on this
CD. Gary is backed up by his own brilliant band, The Roadhouse Rockers.
There are guest stars here however; Bruce Springsteen, Southside
Johnny, Phoebe Snow, and the great Dickey Betts. They all turn in
great performances, but when you take in the whole CD you realize
that those friends are just the opening act and when they leave
it's star time.
fact when you get to track 7, "I've Got Dreams To Remember"
bring a lunch because before you move onto the next cut you're gonna
wanna hear this one at least a half-dozen times. Otis Redding wrote
it and this is the kind of record Atlantic and Stax/Volt used to
make in the 60's. It's a genre you don't hear much anymore called
soul music. Gary squeezes every drop of emotion from it. The man's
soul and pain sweats from every pore of his body with a performance
on the level of Mr. Redding's "These Arms Of Mine," and
"I've Been Loving You Too Long." This is a cut that I'm
sure has Joe Tex looking' down, smiling. It's a performance so pure
that Solomon Burke has to be wondering why it isn't that on his
CD. This is Percy Sledge, Al Green, Sam and Dave all rolled into
one. You know what? That's not true. In fact, this is Gary U.S.
Bonds! If the CD just contained this song 12 times in a row it would
I could write a lot more. But I'd rather listen to the CD so here's
a quick rundown of some other highlights:
"Murder In The First Degree" Question, how could
a song that contains the line, "I call my baby murder 'cause
she's always killin' me" be anything less than sensational?
"Take Me Back" with Southside on harmonica we get
the story of a man in trouble. Although not the same tune, it's
a new variation on a theme by Little Anthony and The Imperials .
. . excellent production.
"She Just Wants To Dance" with Dickey Betts on
guitar and a piano reminisant of Billy Powell from Lynyrd Skynyrd
in the middle. This little girl returns and she just wants to dance.
In addition you get "Fannie Mae," a classic tune from
a classic artist and an excellent appearance from Southside . .
. you get Dickie Betts and Phoebe Snow joining the man on "Bitch/Dumb
Ass," a soulful salute to Otis and Carla, Ray Charles and Betty
Carter that contains the line, "He thinks he's a stallion ,
but he ain't no Stallone
"Too Much, Too Little, Too Late"
the Johnny Mathis tune, but rather a tribute to Sam Cooke. This
has a very smooth vocal from Gary proving he could have had a hit
back then with "Cupid." The question is, could Sam have
had a hit with "Quarter To Three?"
There's so much more, but before we check out, a look at the opening
cut is in order. "Can't Teach A New Dog Old Tricks" .
. . Springsteen and Southside join the man in a kick-ass opening
that sounds like an outtake from Bruce's second album. The thing
is, Gary and Laurie Anderson wrote it, not Bruce! Here Mr. Bonds
throws down the theme of the entire CD
he's done it all. Maybe
his career didn't follow the same path as Paul Anka, Cher or Tom
Jones, but he was there. He was out in the pits with all of 'em;
on the bus with Dick Clark's Caravan of Stars; at Murray The K and
Alan Freed Holiday spectaculars; hanging out with "This Little
Girl" at The Stone Pony, but the important thing is it's a
new millenium. This old dog may not learn new tricks, but he's still
is a wonderful blues/soul/rock and roll CD. It's a rarity, a gem
that anyone interested in rock and roll has to hear many times.
Note to Gary: Don't take so long to come back next time.
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