Monster Mike Welch
Axe to Grind
Tone-Cool 1159
The second outing by this youthful New Englander offers added weight to the belief that Monster Mike is no fluke or novelty, that he's here to stay. The 12 original, energetic tunes, mostly penned by Welch and second guitarist George Leroy Lewis, display surprisingly sophisticated passing chords and interesting changes. If the lyrics to "Did She Say" are a touch weak and the changes on "That's My Sin" a little dull, these are minor problems.

Welch is least strong as a singer, though he shows a marked improvement over his first album and doesn't overreach his vocal abilities. His quiet, husky vocal works well on the slow, deep blues "My Emptiness." But the band -- Welch, Lewis, bassist Jon Ross and drummer David Warren Grant -- is at its best on the loud, busy rockers, like the R&B-ish "Palm of Her Hand" and the instrumental "Cruise Control." The dense, tight sound is big, loud and hot.

A lot has been made about the technical abilities of younger players like Welch (who is now 18), but the real secret is seasoning. Some have it; some never will. Welch has a real feeling for the blues and works with taste and smarts within the form. He can only get better, and that's going to be very good, indeed.

-- Jennifer Zogott

This page and all contents are © 1997 by BLUES ACCESS,
Boulder, CO, USA.