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July 2004

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Charles Wilson
If Heartaches Were Nickels
Delmark Records

Charles Wilson

I'd like to preface this review by saying that of the many CDs Charles Wilson has released to date, If Heartaches Were Nickels (Delmark), is without any doubt the finest.

Frustrated by the production values of the music getting airplay on the Black radio stations of the south and specifically the increasing synthesizers, sequencers and drum machines, Wilson longed for a company that was willing to provide real musicians and a "live feel" on his next CD. In stepped Delmark Records and now we all have the CD we knew he could make. The differences between this release and his last few on Ecko is startling. This is the way music should be recorded.

The CD opens with the upbeat burner "Cut You A Loose," and is followed by a nice version of Travis Haddix's "Doctor Doctor." A fine tribute to Magic Sam, with his "You Belong To Me," keeps things moving right along.

Johnny Jones' funny "Ain't No Hoochie Coochie Man" will get lots of airplay , as will the great slow blues "I Talk To Myself." Carl Weathersby lends his very soulful guitar to most tracks, and even adds a nice shuffle "Up At Carl's" to the mix.

I had mentioned in a prior review that Wilson's uncle is Little Milton, and he is on hand to lend his tasteful guitar to two of his own compositions, "Hattie Mae's" and "Lonely Man." Wilson and Weathersby pay homage to Albert King with "Cadillac Assembly Line," one of my favorite King songs, and his "I Walked All Night Long."

A surprising track is Eddie Giles' "Losing Boy," a 1967 track revered by Southern soul devotees. Throw in a Lee Shot Williams track, a Robert Ward track, and the incredible deep blues "If Heartaches Were Nickels," and you have a release worthy of "best of the year" honors.

There isn't a weak track here --- a 'must buy' CD allowing us to hear Charles Wilson as he was meant to be heard.

--- Alan Shutro

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