U.P. Wilson
JSP 277
It looks like Fort Worth's legendary wildman, U.P. Wilson, is finally getting his act together. He's fronting a real band, he's touring, and Whirlwind is his all-time best recording.

Wilson is well known around Fort Worth for his Hendrixian feat of playing scorching blues with his left hand while holding a cigar, a beer or whatever in his right. Eventually he put together a few months of European dates that paid the bills for the rest of the year. Those dates led to a couple rushed and ill-conceived JSP recordings.

But on Whirlwind, Wilson is backed by Jordan Patterson & the D.C. Hurricane, an up-and-coming East Coast group that toured with Wilson in Europe. Six weeks on the road together isn't a long time, but for someone who's used to working with pick-up bands, it's the difference between night and day.

Whirlwind also benefits from the Hurricane's Big Joe Turner's appearance on Hammond B-3 organ on four tracks, especially the slow-burning "Your Last Chance," "Deep Down Inside" and "If You Don't Know How to Act (Your Place Is at Home)."

Wilson leans heavily on the pyrotechnics, but he shines when he slows down for some old-school grit, a sound that's complemented perfectly by a bloozy Hammond. Still, Whirlwind is filled with scalding rave-ups that conjure up memories of a young Albert Collins. It's hard rocking, but it's not hard rock. There's also a jazzy shuffle ("Juicin' "), some electrified Delta blues ("Who Will Your Next Fool Be?") and some Magic Sam-flavored boogie ("Walk That Walk"). No clunkers here.

-- Dave Ranney

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Boulder, CO, USA.