In The Open
(Self-produced CD -2001)
by Craig Ruskey
Review date: August 2002
"Keeping the Blues Alive Award"|
Achievement for Blues on the Internet
Presented by The Blues Foundation
Rick Welter's name might not be immediately recognized by blues fans, but his return to the scene after a self-imposed, lengthy layoff is certainly welcomed. A guitarist with plenty of chops, solid tone, and a healthy background mark him as one to watch in the future. Previously playing partner to Charlie Musselwhite and Mitch Woods, among other well-known names, Welter's new self-produced disc runs for close to three-quarters of an hour and features a good assortment of well-chosen covers plus two originals. He starts with the title track, a Freddy King instrumental, spurting plenty of resourceful guitar work and some interesting chord choices over the backing of Gene Young's drumming and Steve Thomsen's bass, and for Magic Sam's "You Were Wrong," Welter's voice shows a smoky quality which is comfortably in the zone while the guitar works blazes. He tackles "Ida Red" from Bumble Bee Slim's catalog and the countrified backing works well, but for Johnny 'Guitar' Watson's "She Moves Me," the backing sounds a little stiff, missing the relaxed yet surging feel of the original, although Welter manages some exciting guitar. Elmore James is respectfully treated in "The Sky Is Crying" with flowing slide work that recalls Robert Nighthawk and Tampa Red, who garners a nod for "Don't You Lie To Me," where Welter's voice shines. While the groove works better for a second Johnny 'Guitar' Watson cut, "Hit That Highway" loses steam partway through the guitar solo and things never quite recover, but for Willie Dixon's "Shake For Me," everything bristles along smoothly. "Somebody's Been Talkin' " features some well-played but unfortunately anonymous harmonica and the sleeper happens to be the final track, "Wino Blues," an instrumental original that's slow, deliberate, and definitely blue, but the fadeout after three-plus minutes is a disappointment. Welter's other pen credit is for "Uptown," a slice of funky blues with brimming guitar and solid rhythmic support. Better than half of the disc is taken from 'live' recordings while a handful were cut in the studio and while Rick Welter's re-emergence is welcomed, his solo CD offering of "In The Open" doesn't fall into the essential category, but it is certainly worth listening to. Here's hoping he continues along his chosen path as a fine blues guitarist and effective singer, and I'd definitely recommend another recording journey, but I'd also hasten a suggestion of getting some assistance in the production chair to solidify the efforts. With perhaps a few slight problems, the overall outcome here is a good journeyman offering that is rewarding. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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