Review: Ben Waters – Boogie 4 Stu

Posted on: Sunday, May 1, 2011

Boogie 4 Stu CD Cover

“Boogie 4 Stu – a Tribute to Ian Stewart”
(Eagle Rock Entertainment EAGCD441)

This album is a tribute by Dorset-based pianist, Ben Waters, to his early inspirational mentor, Ian Stewart, who was a co-founder of the Rolling Stones. Such was Stewart’s popularity that the extant members of the Stones expressed their wish to appear on the album, as did Jools Holland, who also gave Waters the use of his Helicon Mountain studio for the project. Charlie Watts plays drums on six of the eleven tracks, Bill Wyman plays bass on three tracks, Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood play guitar on two tracks and Mick Jagger sings lead vocals on one track. Jools Holland plays piano on four tracks, Hammond organ on two and provides the vocals for one. As an added bonus, the album sleeve was designed by Sir Peter Blake of the Sgt Pepper album fame.

There is an excellent mix of boogie-woogie style piano and rhythm and blues numbers, starting with a fabulous rendition by Ben Waters of Albert Ammons’s sublime “Boogie Woogie Stomp”. There are three other marvellous, piano-based instrumentals: “Boogie For Stu”, co-written and played by Waters and Holland, a wistful performance of the traditional “Midnight Blues” and “Suitcase Blues”, another Ammons masterpiece. Ben Waters delivers the vocals for Amos Milburn’s “Rooming House Boogie” while Keith Richards and Ronnie Woods share lead vocal responsibility on Big Maceo Merriweather’s “Worried Life Blues” – stark evidence to confirm why neither has been afforded similar exposure by the Stones.

Jools Holland provides the vocals for a Jimmy Yancey-inspired version of “Make Me A Pallet On The Floor”, on which Ben Waters transfers to Hammond organ, while PJ Harvey sings a barely audible, whispered lead for “Lonely Avenue” and plays some trademark sax. Bob Dylan’s “Watching The River Flow” has Mick Jagger on tremendous vocals, as good as any he has ever recorded, and Hamilton Maxwell takes the mic for a great version of the Joe Turner/Pete Johnson composition, “Roll ‘Em Pete”.

The final track of this superb album is a recording of Sam Cooke’s “Bring It On Home To Me” brilliantly performed by Ian Stewart’s Rocket 88 at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1984, with Stewart himself on piano. It is a splendid tribute to Ben Waters’s biggest influence. In addition, sales will provide a donation to the British Heart Foundation.

Ben Waters website

Lionel Ross

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