Webb Wilder - More Like Me
Blind Pig Records
I’ve heard of Webb Wilder, though I can’t remember how. Now I know something about him and this is it. What one is allowed to hear is “a persona.” This troubles me. Prince foists a persona on his audience. David Lee Roth does this, too. Dozens of college-educated Blues lovers born after 1975 who seek ‘authenticity’ do this with regularity. For my money, this ain’t a good sign.
The first slice is “Juju Man” The mysteriously mis-titled “Fallin’ in Love Again” is a Chuck Berry chugger that Dave Edmunds could happily interpret. I think the intention was to marry “C’est La Vie” with “Fortune Teller” but that ain’t what happened. The use of the pedal steel is apparently only to have the credit, it contributes nothing essential.
Track #2 is “Too Cool for Love.” If Elvis Costello in 1982 had written a song to evoke 1964 this might be what he came up with. It’s okay. I am confused/amused that the Hammond organ sound used here brings to mind Korla Pandit not Jimmy Smith or Al Kooper.
“Don’t Slander Me” immediately calls up the Tailgators. It is a raw, trailer trash demand. I have no idea what Roky Erickson did with this originally but Wilder does a good job, even if the gravy never drips off the plate. Why is there a second guitar during the solo segment warbling useless crap? Is that supposed to be psychedelic?
“Honky Tonkin’ (In Mississippi)” is highly objectionable. It’s a clever lyric that insists that “a miss and a sip” is the key to honky tonkin’ down there. Why, oh why, did the writer [J.Swan] lift Hank Williams’ melody from “Honky Tonk Blues” as the essence of the tune? Did he actually think that no one would notice? The modestly clever lyric would have benefited from a melody of its own.
Track #6 is “Pretty Is As Pretty Does.” This is a convincing 1964 Brit Invasion tip-o-the-hat. The arrangement is very much 1972. This causes discontent. The production is obviously after 1990. Get Nick Lowe to cover it and he might make it work.
Bobby Russell was a craftsman songwriter. Webb’s choice of “Sudden Stop” is marvelous. Originally done by Percy Sledge this a great Soul tune. Wilder does the tune well and, except for the very annoying Hammond draw-bar choice, it is a worthy interpretation.
A welcome, too long overlooked cover is Larry Williams’ 1958 “She Said Yeah.” The Animals covered this song in a very generic way and the Rolling Stones did a very nice (and sloppy) version. Webb does this remake in a convincing manner and, despite the very 1968 guitar tone, provides a nice snapshot of a dandy little Rock’n’roll song.
“Come Around” sounds like a Searchers song from 1964. I have Searchers albums.
Eddie Hinton was a studio guitarist associated with Fame Studios and Muscle Shoals Sound Recording. His reputation was broad. His solo career was disappointing. Songs like “Still Water Runs Deep” are the reason he failed as a solo artist.
The title song is another Wilder original. “More Like Me.” If Webb had called Billy Joe Shaver and asked him to write a song for Wilder’s next CD that described a man embracing himself, flaws and all, Shaver could have composed a superior version of this plain little romp. Once again, the organ tone is simply wrong.
Not much here for Blues freaks, but it is Americana.
Reviewer John Harrelson has been playing Blues since 1965 and worked in virtually every genre of music; Folk, Country, Jazz, R&B and Rock. He holds a PhD in Historical Musicology from the Claremont Graduate University and a B.A. in Anthropology and Ethnomusicology. www.johnharrelson.com