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Dave Weld and the Imperial Flames - Burnin’ Love

Delmark Records

13 tracks; 65.34 minutes

Dave Weld has been away from recording for many years, caring for his mother during a difficult period. The sleeve notes of the CD explain how Dave coped with the situation and is a moving read. This CD is clearly a real attempt to regain the territory Dave occupied in the 90s when his CD with Lil’ Ed Williams on Earwig turned some heads.

Dave’s links to Lil’ Ed go a long way back. JB Hutto (Ed’s uncle) taught Dave slide and Dave was part of the original Lil’ Ed and the Blues Imperials before starting his own band, The Imperial Flames. Lil’ Ed appears on this CD also, playing rhythm on most tracks and taking a couple of solos. However, where this CD differs from the slide-fest that is always the hallmark of a Lil’ Ed album is the featured tenor sax player, Abb Locke, whose warm tones are a strong element in this record.

Dave’s works fine on this Chicago style material. Opener “Sweet Shiny Brown Eyes” is a good start before we hit “Ramblin’” (the longest track at 6.34) which is based around the Robert Johnson tune but with additional and personal lyrics about Dave’s efforts to establish himself in the Chicago scene; really nice sax solo here. Track 3 is a fast paced shuffle entitled “Burnin’ love”, again featuring a strong sax solo and a real fret burning solo from Dave, before we hear the first of two tunes penned by drummer Jeff Taylor, “I got mad”. Jeff takes lead on the vocals on both his compositions and does a good job. “I got mad” lopes along with the story of a difficult relationship while later track “All of these things” tells us about a new love, with solos by Lil’ Ed and Dave.

Two tracks feature Monica Myhre on lead vocals, both her own compositions – “Talk Dirty” and “Listen to Mama”. The first sets off at a fast pace and does what it says in the title! Again, the sax fits superbly into the tune, followed by a nice guitar solo from Dave. “Listen to Mama” starts as more of a slow paced boogie, before building into a more upbeat tune. The variety of vocalists is a strong plus for the CD, in my view.

There are two songs from outside the band; a cover of mentor JB Hutto’s “Things are so slow”, a classic blues which offers Dave a chance to demonstrate his slide chops, alongside some ‘dirty’ sax from Abb Locke. Lil’ Ed penned “Ed’s boogie” which is just what you’d expect from the title, a fast paced boogie, with Ed on lead vocals and slide.

Dave wrote seven of the tracks here, two with Monica Myhre. “She’s mine” is a nice tune, good vocals and another excellent sax solo. “Donnie Lee” is a slow blues, with harmony vocals from Monica which add to the song. “Peace of Mind” is classic Chicago blues and closing track “She’s Lyin’” is an upbeat shuffle with strong sax and guitar features to round off an excellent comeback album for Dave. I enjoyed the CD and am glad that Dave has returned to the scene.

Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK. He also travels to the States most years to see live blues music. He went on his first Legendary Blues Cruise in January 2010 and had such a good time he will be back in 2011!  

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