U.P. Wilson
On My Way
Fedora FCD 5014

Texas guitarist U.P. Wilson has been an inspiration to overzealous journalists and record company spin doctors. Theyíve called him an iconclastic character, loveable con man, a "rough and tough" guitarist, tagged him with the ridiculous appellation of "near legend" and remarked on his "explosive stage presence." In truth, Wilson is most likely all those things and more, in addition to being an unrefined, slightly ragged and honestly direct blues guitarist and singer.

On My Way is a reissue of Wilsonís first album, originally released in 1988 on the obscure Red Lightniní label, with the addition of two wild live tracks (the hot shuffle "Slice íNí Dice," and "Cold Cold Feeling"), recorded with the help of harpist Paul Orta and his very able band. Wilson presents a varied program of styles and sounds, including funky instrumentals ("Como Station" and "U.P. Express"), lonesome laments ("Mean Old World" and Lowell Fulsonís genre standard, "Reconsider Baby"), and a good mix of mid- and up-tempo shuffles and Latin rhythms. Wilson penned eight of twelve cuts, all of which are based around standard blues riffs and subject matter.

Although originality is not Wilsonís strong suit, he compensates with sheer enthusiasm, verve, and high energy, both in the guitar and vocal department. His recent laughable experiments with falsetto vocal stylings are nowhere to be heard, and thankfully so, as he drawls and slurs in a deep baritone. Wilsonís guitar playing is soulful, yet joyously imprecise and fiery, with killer tone to spare.

U.P Wilson is said to have chosen his responsibilities as husband and father over the rigors of touring and promoting a music career. Notwithstanding, heís been pretty busy the last few years with varying degrees of success. At age 64, he may now have the time to dedicate a greater effort to the blues, with the onset of what most people consider retirement age.

On My Way is a pure blues powerhouse set.

ó Bob Cianci

©2000 Blues Access, Boulder, Colorado, USA