The Fabulous Thunderbirds featuring Kim Wilson
High Water
High Street 72902-10357-2
Kim Wilson says the demos from his collaborations with guitarist Danny Kortchmar and drummer Steve Jordan were so "badass" that they deserved to be the Fabulous Thunderbirds' latest release, even though Jordan and Kortchmar aren't really in the band.

Well, if that's true -- and says it is -- then Kim is either delusional, lazy or surrounded by sycophants.

High Water doesn't come close to matching any of the T-Birds' previous releases, not even the half-good Powerful Stuff or the aimless Roll of the Dice. All 12 songs are in the same slow to mid-tempo. By itself, it's not a bad thing, but after the fifth or sixth cut, you'll be reaching for the remote. Most of the guitar parts aren't developed, the drumming never changes from start to finish and Kim's harmonica playing is only a notch above generic.

If High Water were your only exposure to the T-Birds, you'd never know that Kim is truly Little Walter incarnate. Or that the band -- before and after Jimmie Vaughan -- ever had much to do with the butt-rocking blues.

Apparently, High Water is Kim's attempt to cut a "groove" album, not unlike Los Lobos' recent Colossal Head, John Mellencamp's Mr. Happy-Go-Lucky or Charlie Sexton's Under the Wishing Tree. But where these enjoy a sophistication that comes with delivering a finished product, High Water fizzles -- not because the material is unworthy but because it's so unfinished. Only two songs, the title track and the rhythm and bluesy "Promises You Can't Keep," are ready for prime time.

Wilson says it would have been an "injustice" to have recorded the High Water material with anyone else but Kortchmar and Jordan. But the latest edition of the Thunderbirds -- Kid Ramos, Jimi Bott, Steve Hodges and Gene Taylor -- is as good as it gets. No way they would have laid this egg.

-- Dave Ranney

This page and all contents are © 1998 by Blues Access,
Boulder, CO, USA.