Live in Paris
As one of rock’s most eloquent drummers—and one who never lacked for groove—Charlie Watts always seemed like he’d be a boogie-woogie natural, even if the Rolling Stones tended to avoid that medium. But this is boogie-woogie central here, as you’d expect from this fourpiece’s moniker, with the occasional rock ’n’ roll backbeat pushing the band in a bluesier direction, almost like we’re hearing live boogie woogie by way of soul jazz.
Watts is part metronome, part bombardier with his crisply accented fills, which—as on “Roll ’Em Pete”—have a knack for synching up with some of the knottier contours of Dave Green’s bass riffs. This is one rhythm section with a penchant, one might say, for popping, for that expressive, deep-bottomed twang and reverberation that only acoustic instruments seem to provide. At times, as on the opening “Bonsoir Boogie!,” the rhythmic underpinning becomes locomotive-like in quality, as if the band wants to break into a “Mystery Train”-type number, but without the usual gloom, thanks to the robust piano interplay of Ben Waters and Axel Zwingenberger.
The proceedings can get a bit shaggy: “(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66” is one unkempt, rangy party piece, but good fun all the same. “Down the Road a Piece” is the other Stones-associated track, and one imagines that a cut like this was why Watts got involved in such a side project. Here’s your boogie-woogie experience, pure as it gets, with plenty of stomp and swing and, surely, bopping heads in the audience. Meade Lux Lewis would have been all over this stuff.