Revisiting Ronnie Wood’s Guest-Packed Solo LP ‘Gimme Some Neck’
By 1979, British guitarist Ronnie Wood had carved out for himself a niche as a sideman, first with the Jeff Beck Group, then the Faces and the Rolling Stones. But his previous two efforts at solo success had eluded him. That would change with the April 20, 1979, release of Gimme Some Neck.
Wood had also evolved by this time into a more formidable guitar player and singer since earlier in the decade. While still a ragtag wild boy of rock 'n' roll, he now possessed a depth and maturity best illustrated on songs like "Lost and Lonely" and "We All Get Old."
There were the expected appearances of close pals like Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Dave Mason, Mick Taylor, Charlie Watts, Mick Fleetwood and others, adding their chops to bluesy, rootsy raves, including the similarly named "Worry No More" and "Don't Worry." But there was one song in particular that stood out.
In his memoir, Ronnie, Wood tells a story of hanging out one night in 1975, in the studio with Eric Clapton, who was working on his album No Reason to Cry. Bob Dylan was also taking part in the sessions, which took place not far from his home in Zuma Beach, Calif.
“[Dylan] was writing a song at the time called ‘Seven Days,’" Wood recalled. "I know he liked me because, out of the blue he just gave it to me. He said, ‘You can have this one, Woody.’”
That song stands out on the record as a true tour de force, a rollicking and rambling road ode that almost feels like Wood is channeling Dylan throughout.
Gimme Some Neck became Wood’s bestselling solo album, reaching No. 45 on the Billboard 200. As a result of the album's success, coupled with the fact that the Stones had no tour 1979 plans (save for a couple of benefit shows played as a result of Richards arrest) , Wood took a band on the road to promote the album.
Called the New Barbarians, they toured throughout spring 1979 across North America and in August they opened for Led Zeppelin at the Knebworth Festival in England. The band included Richards, bassist Stanley Clarke, former Faces keyboard player Ian McLagan, saxophone player Bobby Keys and drummer Joseph "Ziggy" Modileste of the Meters. The set list featured songs from Gimme Some Neck along with a smattering of Stones tunes and cuts from Wood’s earlier solo albums.
The Stones soon returned to the studio to begin work on the next year's Emotional Rescue. But for Wood fans, 1979 will forever stand out as the time when he released his most solid solo album while also embarking on a typically gypsy-style tour built not around a dynamic front man, but the seductive, artistic weaving between he and his musical soul mate Richards.