Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Monster Mike Welch and Mike Ledbetter Right Place, Right Time

Monster Mike Welch and Mike Ledbetter
Right Place, Right Time
Delta Groove Music

Having been part of the Chicago Blues Festival Tribute to Otis Rush, it was natural that Mike Welch and Mike Ledbetter collaborate on a recording and the spirit of the legendary Rush is evident on this new recording by the two, from the title that evokes a legendary Rush album, to the performances by vocalist Ledbetter and guitarist Welch that both show the deep impact of Rush' soul-searing music on both.

They are backed by Welch's associate in Sugar Ray & the Blue Tones, Anthony Geraci on keyboards, Ronnie James Weber on bass and Marty Richards on drums along with appearances from Laura Chavez on guitar; and Sax Gordon and Doug James on saxophones and they play wonderfully starting with a cover of an Elmore James recording "Cry For Me Baby," with Welch echoing Eddie Taylor's original guitar part, and closing with a nice instrumental shuffle feature for Welch's Rush-influenced styling, "Brewster Avenue Bump."

The only overt Rush cover is a fine rendition of "I Can't Stop Baby," Willie Dixon's reworking of "I Can't Quit You Baby," Rush waxed for Chess. But the spirit of Rush is also present in reworking of Jimmy Robins' bluesy Northern Soul groove, "I Can't Please You"; the reworking of Junior Parker's "How Long Can This Go On," into a West Side Chicago shuffle; as well as playing the Tampa Red-Robert Nighthawk's gem "Crying Won't Help You Baby," as if Rush recorded it. This here is also a nice reworking of the Jerry Leiber-Artie Butler funk, "Down Home Girl," along with the Rush inspired originals, Welch's deep slow blues, "I'm Gonna Move To Another Country," and the Ledbetter penned medium tempoed shuffle "Can't Sit Down."

The only possible quibble that might be leveled is that Ledbetter might have slightly tempered a couple of the vocals such as the opening "Cry For Me Baby." That might be in part a result of Ledbetter's 'operatic training' which I was not aware of before reading Dick Shurman's liner notes, but one can find no other fault in his strongly projected singing. This is a minor, and a subjective, criticism of what is an excellent recording.

I received my review copy from Delta Groove. Here Monster Mike Welch and Mike Ledbetter perform Otis Rush's "Right Place, Wrong Time," at the 2016 Chicago Blues Festival.

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