This is a wordy but oh so fitting moniker for Shayne O'Neill's music, as the Future Kings of Nowhere perfectly captures the insouciant grandness he aspires to, with the self-deprecating twist that is the secret to his success. Actually, the secret to his success is summed up best on "I'm Still Waiting": "Take my quick observations and my questions and my poor explanations and wrap them up into rhymes. Weave them around my mouth, suffer me up into brilliance, until no-one doesn't know my name." With a sharp eye for mundane details, a wry wit, and an occasional ironic twist, the Future King and his cortege of guesting alterno-royalty take a royal trip around O'Neill's ragtag inner realm. Along the way there are amends to make, specifically on "Paper Napkins," an apology to the ex-girlfriend who's been the foil of the singer's many breakup songs. Perhaps "Never" describes their relationship, "Like a Staring Contest" their "trainwreck of an ending," but surely not the girl who did a runner and addressed in a folksy letter from home on "C Is for Heartache." There again, when you entangle yourself with women with a history of "high speed chase, no dialogue," as O'Neill does on "I Want You," it's no wonder problematic relationships make up the bulk of this set.
Like the Renaissance itself, Music for the Spanish Kings begins with a strutting fanfare and ends with a melancholic sigh. Attaining his usual high standards, Jordi Savall has fashioned a poignant and varied musical portrait of the century encompassing the reigns of three Spanish kings: Alphonso I (1442-58), Ferdinand I (1458-94), and Charles V (1516-56). Montserrat Figueras' rich mezzo-soprano voice carries over half the pieces on the first disc. Her stunning vibrato imparts a troupadour's sadness to the cancions.
Founding Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman essentially retired from music after leaving the band in 1993, choosing to dedicate time to his family and his restaurant, Sticky Fingers. He returned to music in 1997 with Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings, a rotating old-time rock & roll, R&B, blues, and boogie collective of superstar musicians anchored by keyboardist Georgie Fame, guitarist Albert Lee, pianist Gary Brooker, and guitarist Terry Taylor. Their first album, Struttin' Our Stuff, appeared that year and it was followed two years later by Anyway the Wind Blows, which featured cameos from Peter Frampton, Geraint Watkins, Paul Carrack, and, notably, fellow Stone Keith Richards. Groovin' arrived in 2000, reaching a career peak of 52 on the U.K. charts. Next was Double Bill in 2001 and Just for a Thrill in 2004, before the band primarily dedicated itself to live performances.
Ever since leaving the Rolling Stones, Bill Wyman has been keeping a low profile – which isn't quite the same thing as keeping quiet. About a decade after quitting the world's greatest rock & roll band, he formed the Rhythm Kings, a loose collective of friends, pros, and all-stars, all gathered to play the blues, soul, R&B, and old-time rock & roll that his old group no longer played. While the concept for the Rhythm Kings was similar to Ringo Starr's ever-changing All-Starr Band, Wyman's group was more of a studio creation than Ringo's ready-for-the-road carnival, which hauled out the old hits for an appreciative audience nearly every summer in the late '80s and '90s…