Save the Wail

Lew Lewis & Reformer

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Save the Wail Review

by Richie Unterberger

Lewis' only solo album was a competent, unexciting blend of pub rock and blues-rock, about half of it from the artist's own pen. Lewis was a good Little Walter-styled harmonica player, but as a singer he fell into the energetic-but-anonymous category occupied by uncounted bar band vocalists. The songs are rather hackneyed, slightly pop-tinged blues/R&B/rock, not getting any better than "Win or Lose," which blends an early Yardbirds-like harmonica R&B charge with the more anthemic melodies of late-'70s new wave power pop. The 2002 CD reissue more than doubles the length of the original LP with 11 bonus cuts, including both sides of a couple Stiff singles from the late '70s and early '80s. Each of those has a mood similar to that of the album, with perhaps a bit of the ska revival filtering into "1-30 2-30 3-35." The CD's filled out by four live 1977 tracks and three live 1979 cuts, the ones from 1977 in decent fidelity, the 1979 efforts in more muffled audio (though still listenable). Most of the live cuts stray closer to straight blues than the rest of the disc does.

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