Love is the first studio album from Chicago bluesman Dave
Weld in over a decade. He kept his band, the Imperial Flames, together during
this time and they did live gigs but his primary preoccupation was in taking
care of his mother during her long final illness. On this CD, Weld returns as
strong as ever as a songwriter and guitarist. He shows why, despite being less
well known, he is one of the best practitioners of the Chicago blues.
Weld was once a student of the legendary slide guitarist
J.B. Hutto. It was through him that he met Hutto’s nephew, Lil’ Ed Williams.
Together in the 1980’s they formed a band, Lil’ Ed and the Blues Imperials. And
in 1986 they made Chicago blues history when they went into a studio supposedly
to cut two sides for an anthology and ended the night with a complete album and
a recording contract with Alligator Records. That album, Roughhousin”, still stands today as one of the greatest electric
slide guitar and Chicago
blues records ever recorded. Weld went off and started his own band a few years
later but remained friends with Williams. Indeed, when Lil’ Ed took a break
from his own band in the 1990’s, he jointed Weld for a few years and they
released an excellent album for Earwig in 1996, Keep on Walkin’.
Williams joins his old partner here. The CD is released on
the venerable Delmark label. This is Chicago blues at its boogie best. On quick
shuffles like “Burnin’ Love” it is great to hear the two great guitarists playing
together again. Ever since the earliest days of the postwar Chicago blues, guys
like Muddy Waters and Jimmy Rogers perfected the two guitars, harp, bass and
drum combo that would become the mainstay of rock and roll. Weld replaces the
second guitar and harp of the basic blues band with a sax. Here, Abb Locke, who
has played with everybody from Buddy Guy to Magic Sam, blows a powerful solo on
“She’s Mine.” With the sax, what results is an album with more of an R&B
feel while still anchored in the blues. In addition to Locke from his touring
band, Burnin’ Love also features
vocalist Monica Garcia.
Weld also distinguishes himself here by his songwriting.
“Donnie Lee” is a sad and poignant tribute to his mom and all that she had to
overcome in life. On “Ramblin'”-a slow burning blues with a jazzy feel thanks to
Locke’s sax-Weld sings the lament of many a musician: “Been years playing the
blues. My name’s still unknown.”
But without a doubt the highlight of the album is Weld and
Williams, the students of J.B. Hutto, cutting loose with a slash and burn, take
no prisoners slide guitar attack. On
“All Of These Things” they exchange licks and solos. They sound is tight in a
way that only two old friends can accomplish in a studio. And you can hear the
fun they were having while doing it. And for a minute, it is possible to
imagine that it is a lifetime ago, 1986, and you are hearing these two young
guy in a West Side club, playing for $5 a night and the glory of the blues. Dave
Weld and Ed Williams are two distinct guitarists and songwriters. But together
they are magic. If you do not have a copy of Roughhousin’ in your collection, it is still available on
Alligator. Get it today.
It is good to have Dave Weld and the Imperial Flames back on
CD and we should thank the great Delmark label for that. Dave Weld proves on Burnin’ Love that both he and the Chicago blues are still
alive and well.
DOWNLOAD: “Ramblin’ “Donnie Lee” “Ed’s Boogie”
“All Of These Things” TOM