Blues Bytes

Pick Hit

June 2009

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Charles Wilson
Troubled Child
Severn Records

Charles WilsonI have been a fan of Charles Wilson for many years, watching his career move from Ichiban Records Blues In The Key Of C in 1991 to Traction Records for one release, and then a series of CDs for the then fledgling Ecko Records in 1995, many of which I reviewed in these very same pages.

His first true hit was the successful Love Seat in 1996. After that, his releases became very similar to each other, a trait caused by the very monotonous programming and drum sequences Ecko used throughout the late '90s.

Following his not so happy departure from Ecko, he formed his own label, Wilson Records. He released two CDs on Wilson Records (along with other artists) but the two self releases followed the same programming and sequencing his earlier releases had suffered with.

His career definitely hit an upturn in 2004 when he recorded the fantastic If Heartaches Were Nickels for Delmark Records. The album earned him a W.C. Handy nomination for the best Soul/Blues album of that year. He then moved to CDS Records for a couple of unspectacular releases over the last few years.

That brings us to this wonderful new release on Severn Records. Using songs by Don Robey (Duke Records), Denise LaSalle, Sam Dees, George Jackson, Clay Hammond and even a great Bob Marley song, Charles is in great voice and is backed by real musicians on every track. It sounds like the Hi rhythm section was reincarnated. Most of these tracks are mid tempo, almost with a deep soul feel to them (it must be the horns).

The great Denise LaSalle track, "Somebody's Tears," dedicated to his late uncle Milton Campbell, stands out as one of the album's highlights, as does the superb Bob Marley track "Is This Love." Wilson gives us a straight soul version of this reggae classic and confirms that this album scores on each and every track.

Destined to be one of 2009's finest releases, it certainly goes to the very top of mine. Kudos to Severn Records for once again giving us a top notch product. You audiophiles out there will dig the great sound, too.

--- Alan Shutro


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