“When I made my first album in 1974 at Wick Studios in Richmond (Greater London) there was never any time to lose and this record was made (quickly) by many of my extremely talented friends. We took the songs from the record straight onto stage. Thus the First Barbarians were born.”
I consider myself fairly well-informed when it comes to Faces lore, which is why I gave Ronnie Wood’s solo debut a little love last time. I’ve Got My Own Album To Do is a semi-obscure classic and deserves the attention. So, imagine my surprise when I recently discovered that Woody organized one live performance of said album. The date was July 14, 1974 (37 years ago yesterday), the venue was the Kilburn Theater in London, and his backing band featured the same players from the album. While they’re now referred to as the First Barbarians … in deference to Woody’s band from 1979, The New Barbarians … at the time it was billed as a Ron Wood solo show.
Everyone knows Richards and Stewart and you’re probably familiar with McLagan. However, Weeks and Newmark were under-the-radar session guys and not exactly household names. Not to worry. Weeks made his bones in Donny Hathaway‘s soul-jazz crew circa 1972-73, with Hathaway on electric piano and the late, great Cornell Dupree on guitar. Meanwhile, Newmark was behind the drumkit for the last great Sly and the Family Stone album, 1973’s Fresh. Interestingly, aside from their work on I’ve Got My Own Album To Do, 1974 also saw Weeks and Newmark collaborating on Randy Newman‘s Good Old Boys, Rod Stewart’s Smiler (along with McLagan and Wood), and George Harrison‘s Dark Horse album and tour.
So, with all that in context, let’s get our loose, soulful groove on.
New Barbarians – Take A Look At The Guy
Let’s see … great harmony vocals, sweet riff, the Woody/Richards guitar weave is clearly ready for primetime, McLagan lays out on boogie-woogie piano, Weeks walks the dog, and Newmark holds it all together. In other words, it’s pretty much a perfect rock ‘n’ roll song.
By the way, Izzy Stradlin, the original rhythm guitarist in Guns N’ Roses (the Ronnie to Slash‘s Keef, if you will), brilliantly covered this song on his own solo debut, Izzy Stradlin and the Ju Ju Hounds (1992). It’s a surprisingly sturdy album and his version is no doubt helped by the presence of Woody himself on co-lead vocals and guitar.
New Barbarians – Mystifies Me
Did you know Woody wrote this song about Pattie Boyd after a brief fling in 1973? This, of course, is the same Pattie Boyd who was married to George Harrison and inspired “Something.” A short while later, she inspired George’s friend (and her second husband), Eric Clapton, to write “Layla.” I’m no biologist, but “Something” + “Layla” + “Mystifies Me” = magical pussy. Seriously, no other explanation makes sense.
And speaking of covers, country-rock/alt.country fans may also know this song from Son Volt‘s version on Trace. Therefore, between Pattie Boyd’s vagina and Jay Farrar are a mere TWO degrees of separation. You’re welcome.
New Barbarians – Sure The One You Need
Another “Richard/Jagger” effort, it’s basically a Chuck Berry rewrite with Keef on lead vocal and Woody on backup. Not the greatest video quality, but thankfully this is rock ‘n’ roll and not a fucking Michael Bay movie in 3-D. A little bit of slop is good for you, it builds character. Besides, y’all should’ve quaffed a few drinks by now and shouldn’t be bothered with such trivialities as “technical expertise.”
New Barbarians – Act Together
You already know I love this song, but the beauty of this version is Keef throwing down on electric piano. Seriously, how cool is that??? Sure, he doesn’t seem entirely comfortable playing keys and singing, but the novelty of seeing him in this capacity is totally worth it. And while Richards will probably draw most of your attention, watch the video again, but just pay attention to Weeks’ basslines. Dude kills it.
New Barbarians – Cancel Everything
Wobbly video, above average audio, and beautifully skewed harmonies. Sounds like rock ‘n’ roll to me … and I like it.