Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Charles Wilson's Classy Soul-Blues

Charles Wilson is among the best of the soul-blues singers to come along in the past few decades and after a pretty straight urban blues CD for Delmark, Severn put him in the studio for Troubled Child, released in Spring 2009 and my review here originally appeared in the June 2009 Jazz & Blues Report (issue 317 -p.13) downloadable at

Nephew of the late Little Milton, vocalist Charles Wilson has an extensive discography for a variety of labels including Ichiban, Ecko, his own Wilson label, Delmark, and CDS with Severn just having issued his latest entry, “Troubled Child.” Its a surprising disc coming from Severn.

One might have thought this might have been more of a blues feel to it , but its a stone-sold soul disc that has a feel of a session from thirty years ago with a full horn section and strings and no sign of synthesizers. It doesn’t hurt to have a studio band of Mike Welch on keyboards, Benji Porecki on keyboards, Steve Gomes on bass and Robb Stupka on drums, or having Willie Henderson handling the horn and string arrangements. There is an interesting mix of songs here from the Don Robey tune, “Where My Baby Went,” to Ronnie Earl’s “I Want to Shout About.” The blues makes its most visible appearance on strong on Denise LaSalle’s “Somebody’s Tears,” done as a tribute to his uncle that is wonderfully sung and has some fine guitar from Welch. The Sam Dees tune that gives the album its title is marvelously reworked with its lyric of a child growing up in the mean world of the ghetto brought to life by Wilson’s impassioned vocal who recognizes some of himself in the troubled child. On Bob Marley’s “Is This Love,” Wilson clearly sings yes about sharing his home and life with his women. Nice also is the remake of the George Jackson song, “I Don’t Want to Take a Chance,” about getting back with the woman who broke his heart before. I have not heard Wee Willie Walker’s original Goldwax recording that has been reissued by the English Kent label. Steve Gomes contributed the closing “Put Something In It,” a solid mid-tempo soul burner.

This is a handsomely produced disc (one cites the cliche that no expense was spared to produce it) that shows how good a singer Wilson is and certainly fans of soul, southern or otherwise will find much to enjoy here.

For FTC regulation purposes, the review copy was sent from Severn Records.

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