Leo Bud Welch – The Angels In Heaven Done Signed My Name
Easy Eye Sound
10 songs/26 minutes
The sacred and the secular is a worn out troupe of Blues writing. The classic example of Son House playing Blues all night and then preaching in the morning. The real truth is that Blues and Gospel are completely entwined and if a musician is singing about love, hardship or community it doesn’t matter if they are a believer or not, if they have “God” or “baby” as the object of their affection. Mavis Staples knows this, so did Aretha, so did the Rev. Gary Davis, so does virtually every Bluesman and Blueswoman who learned to sing in their family church. The late Leo Bud Welch lived in a simple devotional space where his musical expression was deeply personal, deeply emotional, deeply spiritual and without delineation between the trappings of life and the glories of the hereafter.
Leo Bud was a deep groove Bluesman, in the RL Burnside or T-Model Ford school of angular guitar boogie and thick voiced country holler. He was “discovered” in 2014 at the age of 81. The great documentary Late Blossom Blues details his shift from regional amateur to global professional. His two studio albums Sabougla Voices (2014) and I Don’t Prefer No Blues (2015) are modern Deep Blues masterpieces. Supported by a group of Mississippi sensitive musicians lead by the incomparable Jimbo Mathus, these records create environments for Leo Bud to fully realize his artistic vision.
Musicians: Leo Bud Welch – guitar, vocals; Dan Auerbach – guitar, drums, bass, percussion; Leon Michels – organ, piano, synth; Dave Roe – bass; Richard Swift – drums, percussion, background vocals; Russ Pahl – guitar; Ray Jacildo – keys; Lisa Hans, Vencie Varnado, Shelton Feazell, The Grascals – background vocals
This new posthumous Leo Bud Welch record produced by Black Key Dan Auerbach The Angles In Heaven Done Signed My Name is not a pure representation of Leo Bud’s artistry but it is a creative and effective interpretation of his artistry. Auerbach and his Nashville cohorts (see list of musicians below) took recordings that were done with Mr. Welch and then added a bunch of ornamentation. The result is closer to the highly enjoyable hip hop and soul laden posthumous Asie Patton record Just Do Me Right, then the deep pocketed groove of Welch’s two official records. The difference is most prevalent in Leo Bud’s signature “Praise His Name,” (here titled “I Come to Praise His Name”). This infectious call and response boogie first recorded on Voices is given a dense fuzz laden treatment here. This newest “Praise” is really not that far from the original, but the influence of Auerbach’s aesthetic colors the instrumental melody, it skews the rhythmic foundation and alters Welch’s original groove ever so slightly.
The altering of Welch’s original groove is at the heart of most of the tracks on Angels. Most songs start with Leo Bud’s solo strumming and singing. Then subtly an organ fluffs in, a slide guitar careens in or a deeply syncopated rhythm either from acoustic bass or percussion burble up. “Jesus on the Mainline” is a prime example. This is a strong gospel reading of this classic with sanctified chorus and organ. But the savage slide, the slight disembodiment of Leo Bud’s vocal to allow for stronger rhythm stability and expansive chord changes during the solo create something unique and different. “Don’t Let the Devil Ride” is in the same arrangement vein. But, glory and praise is traded for menace and ache. A rarely heard in Deep Blues, straight 4/4 12-bar solo rounds out the augmentation.
Album bookends “I Know I’ve Been Changed” and “Sweet Home” are the purest Leo Bud performances. With minimal accompaniment and editing, featuring Welch’s voice and electric guitar, they create a great prelude and coda to what is an homage, a modern interpretation of this great Blueman’s legacy. The Angels in Heaven Done Signed My Name is a very enjoyable album and was obviously produced with great care and affection.
If you are interested in the pure uncut Leo Bud Welch, check out his two studio albums and then come back for this final tribute lap.