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the Pale

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Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings

Magnus Mills, 'The Independent', 17 October 1997

The guy on bass wasn't bad, either Wednesday, 15th October at the Forum, London

How many people who bought I Don't Want Our Loving to Die by The Herd in 1968 realized that frontman Peter Frampton could play some of the meanest electric guitar this side of the Atlantic? Or that Gary Brooker, the man who wrote and sang A Whiter Shade of Pale had so much blues inside him that he could practically make the keyboards walk across the room?

Come to mention it, there was also another guy present in the Forum line-up who made a few appearances on Top of the Pops during the halcyon days. Georgie Fame is a jazz vocalist who can fit an easy seat lyric to anything the band can throw at him. And what a band! Apart from the above mentioned stars, you also get the legendary axe-man Albert Lee and some blistering sax courtesy of Nick Payn and Frank Mead.

Yet when The Rhythm Kings ambled on to the stage on Wednesday night, they looked like a bunch of blokes from down the pub. Are these really the men who used to make teenage girls swoon with desire? Fortunately, it takes more than three decades to knock the edge off some of the songs this outfit keep in its repertoire. And with an audience consisting entirely of rhythm and blues freaks (or so it seemed), the band could really do no wrong. Peter Frampton led the vocals for Elvis Presley's Mystery Train and The Nashville Teens' 1964 hit Tobacco Road, as well as providing the guitar chaser for Georgie Fame's duet with soul princess Beverly Skeete on Melody.

Seated behind the second keyboard, Fame then gave us Motovatin' Mama and the cool dark glasses spoof Hole in my Soul. If you wanted to witness definitive versions of What'd I Say or Rollin' and Tumblin' then the Forum was the place to be. Nobody could say this wasn't one of the tightest acts on earth, and the crowd just loved them to strut their stuff. Step forward Gary Brooker, who kept the place rocking with his delivery of Good Golly Miss Molly and Wilson Pickett's Land of 1,000 Dances. The thing about these guys is that their voices seem to be in as good shape as when we first heard them all those years ago. They just look different these days.

Oh yes. There was also this quiet bloke on the bass guitar, who didn't say much but looked as if he was having fun. At the beginning of the show he came on stage and said "Good evening, London." But no one seemed to hear him.

A picture, of Bill Wyman and his headless bass, was accompanied by the unflattering caption, 'Repertoire of rhythm: Bill Wyman and Peter Frampton: the looks may have gone but the music can still make you swoon'

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