Dave Weld is today’s guitar master of the Chicago West Side blues sound. Studying under J.B. Hutto and influenced by Hound Dog Taylor, Weld has been immersed into the grit, power and energy of the West Side’s very pronounce blues style. In this, his second effort for Delmark Records, we see further maturation in the song writing by him and his partner of many years, “The Lovely Monica”(as Dave calls her at their live shows). He and Monica Myhre have penned together or alone 11 of these cuts. Drummer Jeff Taylor wrote another and the lone cover is from Weld’s mentor, J.B. Hutto.
The songs here feature Weld and his band playing with hjigh energy and near-reckless abandon. This is not an album for the faint of heart. Dave does all of the guitar work and he and Monica share the vocals except for Taylor’s cut which he sings. Also here on the CD are Harry Yaseen on piano, Greg Guest on piano and organ for a few cuts, Brother Dave Kaye on bass, Greg McDaniel on bass for one cut, and a horn section of Parris Fleming, Rajiv Halim and Bryant Smith on cut 4 and Kenny Anderson, Hank Ford and Bill MacFarland on track 6. Bobby Rush is a guest on harp+ for a couple of tracks, Greg Guy appears on guitar on track 11 and Sax Gordon makes three appearances on the album.
The title track kicks things off with Dave testifying and playing some stinging lead guitar. Yaseen’s piano and Guest’s organ work add a great dimension to the song, but its Dave’s guitar that steals the show. Monica comes in after the big solo to front the band, showing restraint when needs and tearing it up when appropriate. Weld, Myhre and Taylor harmonize nicely. This has to be among the best songs Weld has done in his repertoire. “Sweet Rockin’ Soul” is a boogie woogie rocker that Weld blasts out the vocals along with a lead guitar of mega proportions. His solos leave nothing behind, big, meaty and juicy guitar that could wake the dead. Yaseem keeps up on the piano and makes the boogie woogie feel just right as you grab for your dancing shoes. Kaye and Taylor also get some solo time near the songs end, a totally rollicking ride throughout! Myhre leads the charge in “Looking for a Man,” a song that the title completely explains for us. Myhre lays out her criteria as she growls and belts out the lyrics. Rush makes his first of two appearances and, as expected, nails the harp here. Weld offers another huge solo; this is another big, up tempo tune that makes one want to dance to. The first horn section appears on “Take Me Back,” a tune with a funky groove and nice horn arrangement. Weld takes charge of the vocals as the groove drives it all along and Monica assists on a couple of choruses. It builds to an almost frenetic end; one can almost feel the beads of sweat rising on Weld’s brow as he figuratively rips the strings off the guitar as the horns blare in an impassioned manner. The next cut is classic Dave Weld; “May Be Right, May Be Wrong” is a great song for Weld to shout out the lead vocals in classic style. The tempo is driving here, too; this band never rests! Monica comes in and demands to be held and squeezed; she and Weld harmonize some more and Weld’s great guitar takes to his final vocal. The two take us home as they demand physical attention as they jointly sing, “Come on and hold me!”
They finally take the tempo down a notch in “Sweet Love (Dulce Amour)” where the horns join Monica in a more restrained cut. Weld’s guitar is also more subdued to match the timber of the tune. Myhre croons in both English and Spanish as she weaves a beautiful web of a tune for us. Ford gives us a nice solo on tenor sax that also rates a mention. The shackles then come off for “Louise” when the band hits high gear and Monica moans and screams her warnings to Louise about marrying that man. The beat is driving and Weld offers a distorted solo before Sax Gordon makes his first appearance, a nice, greasy tenor solo. “Tremble” is another cut where Gordon makes an appearance to fill as Weld testifies both vocally and on guitar. Weld begs for help with his ‘trembles” as the tune builds into a whirling finish. Slow blues is next in “Walk on Down” where Weld show us his chops on guitar and Myhre gives another effective performance. Yaseen gives us a nice, big solo here, too.
Jeff Taylor takes over for “Dorothy Mae,” offering up his sonorous tones as he tells a tune of church folk gone bad. According to Taylor, the titled woman appears not to be too truthful; his vocals are solid and offer a cool contrast to Weld and Myhre. Weld and Gordon offer up some more good solos again. “Too Bad, So Sad” is another driving cut with Monica taking the reigns and Weld offering up some more big time guitar along with some fine assistance from Greg Guy. J.B. Hutto’s “20% Alcohol” has Weld giving a passionate rendition of his mentor’s old song. Bobby Rush appears again with some sweet harp throughout and also adds a great solo to make things sweeter. Weld shouts and growls out tune and then blazes in another well done solo on guitar. The title track is reprised to close things out. The guitar is gutsy and stinging and Weld, Myhre, and Taylor doo wop along with it to finish out a truly fine set of tunes.
These new songs have become staples of Weld and the band’s live shows. The energy is high and the songs make you want to get up and boogie. Weld and company are at their best. This is their best album to date, surpassing Burnin’ Love (their inaugural album for Delmark) in sound and song quality. That album was no slouch either, but in my mind this one is even better. Weld’s guitar hits the stratosphere as he and band have come out to make a statement. If you want to hear how well the West Side of Chicago remains represented in today’s blues then look no further; this is a great album that you will enjoy over and over again!