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Non-Prog CD Reviews

The Charlie Wheeler Band

Line ‘Em Up

Review by Gary Hill

This album is just plain great. There’s an awesome blend of sounds that makes it feel unique and original, but also familiar and accessible. If you like good times rock with a lot of classic sound in, this double set is perfect for you. It’s likely to be making my “best of 2012” list. Yes, it’s that good.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Disc 1
Line 'Em Up
There’s an energized classic rock sound on display here. It’s got some blues influence, but overall feels like the hard rock sounds that were so popular in the 1970s. There is some smoking hot guitar soloing. The keyboard sound is nicely retro.
Triangular Lovestruck

In some ways this is similar to the opener, but there’s more of a soulful groove and even some funk in the mix on this tune. It’s another that’s classic in texture and sound. This is just plain tasty and has some great instrumental work from everyone.

The Same Thing
This isn’t all that different from the rest of the music to this point, but there’s more of a blues texture to it. Not only does it include smoking hot guitar work, but it also has some harmonica in the arrangement.
When the Eagles Fly

A mellower tune, this is rather balladic and it’s not that far removed from jam band music. That said, the instrumental solo later certainly has quite a bit of fusion in it, mixed with something a bit like The Grateful Dead. It’s another extremely effective tune on a great disc.

Try A Whisper

Energetic and melodic, this is another killer tune with plenty of classic rock in the mix. The guitar soloing, as always, is killer and everything about this track is just “cool.” Honestly, it’s one of the highlights of the set and a real screamer. It has plenty of both fusion and jam band music in the mix.

Sallie Mae
Funky guitar sounds open this. From there it turns out into something that feels a bit like Deep Purple, but with a real jam band styled groove to it. They take it to a more energetic stomper with hints of Red Hot Chili Peppers but with a lot more classic rock oriented sound. It’s just amazing how these guys keep changing their sound and yet manage to keep it consistent. In a lot of ways I’m reminded of The Animals at times on this. That said, the guitar solo seems closer to something from the Allman Brothers.
I'll Drive
While they’ve not reinvented the wheel here, there’s a real groove to this. It’s a strong tune that really works incredibly well. Certainly that jam band element is at play, along with lots of classic rock. There are some symphonic sounds added to the mix later, too.
Why O' Why

More classic rocking sounds with lots of blues in the mix are included here. This is very much like jam band music with some serious soulful textures. It’s a bit mellower and quite melodic, but it’s also very potent. In some ways, the more melodic side of Guns N Roses wouldn’t be a bad reference. The guitar solo on the tune is extensive and very expressive.

Gone Are the Days
There’s certainly a lot of funk in the arrangement of this tune. It’s another that includes some harmonica work. This thing rocks out in classic style. Aerosmith seems to merge with G N R and some real soulful funk on this tune.
Disc 2
Highway Run
Clearly that Aerosmith reference is even more valid here. Imagine Aerosmith (1970s edition) mixed with a jam band kind of sound and some more real blues sound and you’ll have a good idea what this sounds like. It’s another killer tune.
New York City Night
There’s a real sultry texture to this. Saxophone wails at times (and gets a great solo late in the cut) and it just oozes cool. It’s all classic rock and there are some awesome melodic moments. At times here I can compare it to Robin Trower, but other bits make me think of the Rolling Stones, yet the whole thing has a totally different air than either of those references would indicate.
I Got to Ramble

While the jam band element is still present, this has a real chugging blues vibe to it a lot of the time. This is another killer track on a set with no sign of relenting. This one has some harmonica in the arrangement and it really rocks.

No One's Gonna Save You

Essentially a power ballad, this is another that could earn comparisons to the melodic side of Guns N Roses. It’s a powerful number that really has a lot packed into a fairly simple song structure. The slower moving guitar solo is just plain classic.

My Mama Cried

Aerosmith seems at times to be on the table on this rocker. It’s got plenty of other sounds, though. It’s high energy and just loaded with classic sound and powerful deliveries.

In a Daydream

There’s definitely plenty of classic rock on this tune. It almost fits into a progressive rock heading in some ways. We get some smoking hot instrumental work and this is just a killer performance. While this song might not be the most obvious one to grab the listener, it’s one of the strongest. There are stellar performances from everyone and the whole vibe of the tune is incredible.

When the Lord Comes to Get You
Starting with a stripped back, down home blues styled sound, this eventually works out to more music along the lines of the rest of the disc. It’s one that starts a little lackluster, but makes up for that in style.
Protect You

This tune really feels like it would have been at home on the radio in the 1970s, but that’s true of most of this set. It’s got some great melody and works between harder rocking and mellower sounds, but always has a lot of class and charm and style.

Recess of His Mind

As good as the rest of the album was, it might seem impossible for them to end with a stronger tune than we’ve heard to this point. Well, they manage it. This has plenty of that classic rock in place, but it’s also rather modern in some ways. It’s the most dynamic cut on show and even feels a bit like progressive rock. There’s a definite symphonic vibe to the piece and it’s really an epic, growing number. This one is without question the strongest thing on display here and it’s stellar!

 
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