It's 1969, and the Stones are back in the studio recording what will become one of their most popular albums, Let It Bleed. However, during a lot of the recording sessions, Keith Richards is frequently late to arrive and such was the case on April 23rd, 1969. Mick Jagger, Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman and pianist Nicky Hopkins found themselves accompanied by guitarist Ry Cooder and while they waited they picked up their instruments and played. The result was Jamming With Edward! and, although it was not a smash hit when released in 1972 (reaching #33 in the US and not charting at all in the UK), it is fairly popular among Rolling Stones fans and bootleggers who enjoy an insight into the band as they rehearse in the studio.
The album kicks off with "The Boudoir Stomp", a single-chordal track with a boogie-woogie feel. It sounds quite messy at the start, with a few lonesome notes from Ry and some shouts from Mick, but soon after it starts up into a nice bouncy beat. All the musicians come across well on the opening track; Ry on his guitar (although he's just playing chords), Mick on some vocals and his harmonica, Bill on bass, Charlie on drums, but most notably Nicky Hopkins, whose piano playing skills shine through fantastically on the opening track. The track ends with Bill playing some notes, and if you weren't focusing properly you probably wouldn't even notice the transition to the next track, "It Hearts me Too", which is a bluesy number. When you realise the change of track, you acknowledge the fact that this is no studio album - it is purely a recording of the jam between five men waiting for the last member of the Stones to arrive at the Olympic Studio (although some tracks do fade out, indicating that some editing was done and cuts were made).
The tracks stem from two minutes long to a colossal eleven minutes, but, again, what does it matter when you're listening to such an unrehearsed mash up? For some people, however, this won't be a good thing. The general public are after an album whose tracks have individuality and uniqueness, and these are qualities that the tracks within Jamming With Edward! do not possess. But, if you are looking to experience the Stones (well, most of them) with Ry Cooder at face-value and want to feel like you are there with them in the studio while they rehearse, then this album (if you can call it an album - I would prefer the term "recording") is certainly for you.
The album plays out with "Highland Fling", a four minute fast-paced track on which, again, Nicky Hopkins plays brilliantly. All in all, it's an album which is well worth a listen for any Stones/Ry Cooder fan and the somewhat comical cover for the album makes me issue a chortle every time I look at it.