Top 10 Ron Wood Rolling Stones Songs
Rolling Stones guitarist Ron Wood celebrates his 64th birthday today (June 1), and we're using that as our excuse to examine 10 of his best recorded moments with the legendary group. Wood made his official debut as a member of the Stones with 1976's 'Black and Blue' album, having already established himself as a formidable presence through his work with the Jeff Beck Group and the Faces. Since then, Wood has contributed an impressively varied tapestry of guitar work to the band's records. Here are the Top Ten Ron Wood Rolling Stones Songs:
'Love is Strong'
There's something about the Plasticman-like stretchy funk of 'Love' that pushes beyond the Stones-by-numbers feel that exists in some of the other singles from the later Stones catalog. Also notable -- the video for 'Love is Strong' gives us the rare opportunity to see Ron Wood walk the streets, looking like a giant guitar playing Godzilla, minus the lizard suit. Keith Richards doing the same thing gave kids nightmares for weeks.
'Rock and a Hard Place'
The tempestuous relationship between Mick Jagger and Richards provided the lyrical catalyst for 'Rock,' which stands as one of the last really rockin' singles released by the Stones. The three guitar assault from Wood, Richards and Jagger gives the track a nice thick sound that's guaranteed to give your stereo speakers a good workout.
'When The Whip Comes Down'
Relegated to the B-side of 'Respectable,' Wood contributes both guitar and some tasty pedal steel to this hard-driving Stones number, which barely needs more than four minutes to storm through the musical agenda set forth. A bootleg version of 'Whip' reveals more than five minutes of additional jamming that didn't make the final version.
'Dance, Pt. 1'
Wood grabbed his first official writing credit as a member of the Stones with 'Dance,' and says that Jagger latched onto the track thanks to the catchy riffing that was going on, prior to any lyrics being written. Leading off the 'Emotional Rescue' album, 'Dance' proves that syncopated disco beats, horns and rock guitar can in fact mix well, and gets our vote as one of the dark horse tracks in the Stones catalog.
Wood moves to bass on the 'Emotional Rescue' single, with regular bassist Bill Wyman shifting over to synthesizer. Using Wood's bass line as the foundation, the Stones go creeping through the night with Mick's urgent falsetto way up top. 'Rescue' upset a number of Stones fans because of it's heavy disco feel, but time has shown they were once again ahead of the game.
'Beast of Burden'
'Beast' gets the vote as one of our favorite songs in the Ron Wood-era Stones catalog, and you rarely hear them get more soulful than they are this track from 1978's 'Some Girls.' Wood's guitar intertwines effortlessly with Richards, something that he says was a “natural thing.” Songstress Bette Midler would later record a cover of 'Beast.'
'Undercover of the Night'
While the Stones haven't been overly political with their songwriting over the years, 'Undercover' finds Jagger exploring corruption in Central and South America. The satisfyingly bluesy riffing from Wood really colors and enhances the frenetic pace of the main riff, driving the song forward alongside the backbeat of Charlie Watts.
Wood has said that 'Miss You' wasn't conceived as a disco song, but ultimately it became very closely associated with that movement. Charlie Watts allows that he and Mick were spending a lot of time at disco clubs back then. Wood's old Faces mate Ian McLagan added electric piano to the track, which reportedly was inspired by Jagger's failing relationship with his wife Bianca.
'It's Only Rock 'n' Roll (But I Like It)'
Although this wasn't an audition for Ron Wood, it certainly added some in-person experience to his resume when he helped Mick and Keith record this signature Stones song prior to joining the band. Wood plays 12 string on the track, parts of which were recorded at his basement home studio. Notably, the track also features Kenney Jones, Wood's former bandmate from the Faces, subbing in on drums for Charlie Watts.
'Start Me Up'
One of the best known Rolling Stones songs, it's hard to believe 'Start Me Up' came from 'Tattoo You,' the 1981 odds and sods album cobbled together at a time when the Stones weren't writing new songs. The basic idea for 'Start Me Up' took root during the sessions for the 'Some Girls' album, and was initially recorded on the same day as 'Miss You.' The band experimented at one point with a reggae beat on the song but reverted back to the original rock-based treatment when they finally finished it for the 'Tattoo You' album. 'Start Me Up' features one of the most identifiable opening guitar riffs and has served as the lead-off setlist opener for many Stones tours.