Webb Wilder

Born to Be Wilder

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Roots rocker Webb Wilder was due for a live album, which he finally recorded for the cameras in August 2005. The result was then packaged as a DVD/CD collection and released by Landslide in 2006 where it languished in near obscurity. Along comes the better distributed Blind Pig to the rescue and reissues the audio-only disc as a new release in January, 2008, two and half years after the original performance. By then Wilder should probably have had a new studio album in the can. Regardless, based on the audio, this is a sturdy if somewhat tepid representation of Wilder's, err wilder live gigs. His deep talk/singing voice sounds fine, the band is top-notch and the set list is representative of Wilder's sound and career. But there is a noticeable spark missing. That doesn't make this a bad album, just a disappointing one since this music thrives on a groove that, for the most part, is M.I.A. At its worst, it is still preferable to hear this gig than to see it on the lackluster DVD where the band looks stiff and uncomfortable on an over-lit stage in front of the cameras and no audience in sight. The three-guitar attack toughens the sound, but Wilder doesn't need to come off like Lynyrd Skynyrd on "Human Cannonball," which is the effect generated. The instrumental "Sputnik" shows Wilder's retro surf/garage side, his Chuck Berry influences rule on "How Long Can She Last," and "If You're Looking for a Fool" is a country classic waiting to happen. Ultimately though, this is just too clean, polished, and lacking the edge that makes great shows out of good ones. It's also not particularly indicative of Wilder's far more intense and gritty concerts, any one of which puts this respectable if somewhat dull performance to shame.

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