Webb Wilder

About Time

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True to the album's title, it has been eight years since the last platter of original material from Webb Wilder. Although this disc -- his sixth since 1989 -- isn't worth a wait of that length, it is a terrific addition to the rather meager Wilder catalog. Produced by longtime cohort R.S. Field, who also pens nearly half of the tracks, Wilder utilizes his deep baritone voice and edgy twang band to energize '50s rockers, frisky swamp pop, country blues, surf, and twang nuggets. To his credit, original Field rockers like "Miss Missy from Ol' Hong Kong" sound like the obscure covers that Wilder resurrects from rock & roll's dusty past. Wilder's eclectic catalog-raiding ranges from Tommy Overstreet's honky tonk "If You're Looking for a Fool" to Johnny Burnette's "Little Boy Sad" and Cliff Richards' "Move It." He also unearths "Jimmy Reed Is the King of Rock and Roll," a comparatively new tune from the underappreciated Kevin Gordon, and kicks the album off in high gear with a sizzling version of Big Al Downing's "Down On the Farm." Wilder displays his dry humor on "Scattergun," a tongue-in-cheek Western story-ballad out of the "High Noon"/"The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance"-styled '60s songbook. Horns pep up a few tracks, such as the Chuck Berry-ish "Battle of the Bands," and Wilder even stops by the tiki lounge for a pedal steel-driven weeper, "Old Copper Penny." But judging from "The Only One," a rugged, shadowy, midtempo burner co-composed with Chuck Prophet and the album's most serious tune, Wilder should include more of his own originals when he gets around to making another album -- which hopefully will not come after another eight-year wait, because this collection is such loose fun. Occasionally the energy lags, but About Time is a rollicking party from one of Americana's less recognized but most talented and knowledgeable artists.

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