Monster Mike Welch

Catch Me

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In the kid-blues sweepstakes, "Monster" Mike Welch was one of the first on the scene and one who quickly got lost in the shuffle. This probably had more to do with his non-Hanson-like looks (à la Kenny Wayne and Johnny Lang) than his actual talent on his instrument, never a real consideration in these matters. Therefore in a move to distance himself from the pack and grab a little credibility in the bargain, his third album finds him dropping the teeny bopper "Monster Mike" tag, growing a beard, and scowling into the camera whenever possible. Musically, this time around he shows little growth since his previous two outings. Welch dials in every SRV-approved sound from his Stratocaster and his playing is still highly derivative, offering note-for-note guitar runs from everyone from Magic Sam to Albert Collins to B.B. King. To his credit, however, Welch sounds less like a Stevie Ray "Vaughanabee" than Kenny Wayne does, and if his vocals are wispy-kid embarrassing on tunes like "Catch Me" and "My Love Belongs to You," he never tries to strangle his voice to attain Johnny Lang's phony blues rasp. But nobody can deny that Welch can play his rear end off; if all blues album were ever meant to be was one big hot lick festival, then this one would rank as an all-time great.

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