Boogie 4 Stu

Ben Waters' boogie for Rolling Stones sideman Ian Stewart

Boogie 4 Stu

Ian Stewart wasn’t the sixth Rolling Stone. He was the second – first to answer Brian Jones’ ad in the paper, 1962. Keith Richards arrived next and found Stu. “Boogie with Stu,” on Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti, now welcomes a second best celebration of the late sideman, Ben Waters’ new Stones throw, Boogie 4 Stu: A Tribute to Ian Stewart.

Waters, 35, writes in the CD liners that he saw Stewart perform when he was about nine, which would’ve been just before the Scottish-born pianist died of a heart attack at 47, the week of Richards’ birthday in 1985. No coincidence that the Stones more or less broke up that year. Stu’s sudden death broke the entire band’s “Heart of Stone.”

That Stewart’s influence on the young English piano player now results in Boogie 4 Stu (Eagle Records) seems unlikely enough, but the fact that the album’s such a genuine treat almost makes up for the fact that the Stones themselves are probably still reeling from Richards’ autobiography Life last year. Mixed by classic rock’s sonic stamp of quality, Glyn Johns, with art by Sir Peter Blake of Sgt. Pepper fame, the prize platter might become a new olive branch on the Stones' rose bramble.

Opener “Boogie Woogie Stomp” says it all, the Albert Ammons piano standard eons removed from its author and the ivory hunter feted here, but Stu’s spirit is palpable from the first notes. When Amos Milburn’s “Rooming House Boogie” lodges next on ripe roadhouse blues, the guitar licks are instantly familiar: Keith Richards. And there’s Bill Wyman too, original Stones bassist. And it only gets better.

Third batter up, blues staple “Worried Life Blues,” offers something never done on a Stones album: a duet between Richards and Ronnie Wood. Together, their nicotine-scarred vocals might as well be roofing tar, but they’re singing for their sainted Stu, so it’s a thing of beauty, ably encored by Waters and Jools Holland on organ romping through the title track. Sequencing, locked down.

Surprises don’t peak there either. PJ Harvey herself shows up for “Lonely Avenue,” a breathy cramp accompanied by her own saxophone no less, setting up an honest to goodness new Rolling Stones track – Richards, Wood, Wyman, Mick Jagger, and Charlie Watts, who guests the most here, six tracks – on a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Watching the River Flow.” To an unmistakable beat, the Big Bang boys lay into a Chicago throb that canals into the Mississippi. They didn’t all cut it in the same room, but it grooves as if they did.

Stewart himself, on closer “Bring It On Home to Me,” illustrates what all the fuss was about. You can see it in the opening shots of Hal Ashby’s 1981 Stones concert film, Let’s Spend the Night Together. There’s Stu – next to Austin’s Ian McLagan – romping on the keyboard like a big shaggy dog, swinging and swaying with all the grace of divine musical possession.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Ian Stewart
Astringent 16th Note Runs
Astringent 16th Note Runs
The Fireants' Ian Stewart is accepted to Berklee College of Music

Livvy Bennett, March 19, 2010

More by Raoul Hernandez
Crucial Concerts for the Coming Week
Crucial Concerts for the Coming Week
Sue Foley, Nat Adderley Jr., Cheap Trick, Little Mazarn and Ralph White, High Desert Queen, and the Austin Record Convention

Oct. 15, 2021

What We're Listening to Right Now
What We're Listening to Right Now
Duel, Cactus Lee, Kady Rain, Sweetfeed, Startographers, and the You're Gonna Be Great 2 comp

Oct. 15, 2021

KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Ian Stewart, Ben Waters, Rolling Stones, Keith Richards, Hal Ashby

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle