Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Wilson T. King - The Last of the Analogues: Jimi Would've Dug It

"This second solo album really defines my Future Blues Vibe. Like the first record there is a deliberate avoidance of the cliche ridden karaoke modern blues scene." Wilson T. King, 2012
The Last of the Analogues is Wilson T. King's new record, and with it he goes even further than he did with his first in distancing himself from what can be traditionally called 'the blues.' However, this is a blues record for our times - forget the stuff so many kids pedal as the blues these days as they regurgitate tired 1-4-5s, and SRV licks ad infinitum. I agree, Wilson T - that shit will give you the blues.

No, this record is closer to London's soul in '67, as Hendrix, Beck, Clapton, Gilmour, and Page decided that the Kings's days were over, and a new blues was on the horizon. Wilson T. King is ferocious. Even when he's laying a slow soulful number, he goes straight for the throat. Blade Runner Blues - that's what this is. Apocalyptic fires blaze out of King's Strats and Marshalls - freakishly incendiary are his bends, screams, and squalls as they descend down from the halls of guitar valhalla.

Dare I say, this is also a very beautiful record. This Mountain of Fire eases gently into being with acoustic guitars and a delicate vocal before a driving bassline picks up the pace, some very '60s stickwork evoke a sense of psychedelia, then King slices into his first solo of the record, and all bets are off - this cat plays for keeps. You can tell that there's much more at play here than what anyone could call the blues - it's a literal lesson in what makes for great rock.

Born Into This is a bodacious bastard of a manchild. Sounds like an alchemy of U2, the guitar lords, and plenty of completely unique mojo coming out of this mix. King sounds like a man possessed, but strangely in control. Almost nine minutes of some of the most exciting Strat strangling to be heard since Machine Gun. I don't say this casually - Band of Gypsys is the godhead of blues rock, and this ain't no joke. King might be the most authoritative player to come down the pike since Gary Moore - he plays with no fear, hesitation, or compunction.

Wilson T. King's vocals grow on you. Not a great singer, but his voice is his and his alone, not unlike those of Hendrix and Uli Roth - guys who can deliver a lyric with stunning sincerity and confidence, in spite of their inherent limitations. Like The Turquoise In A Crashing Wave is a compelling and cinematic tale that tells a story that would do well to find its way into a David Lynch film. It's hard to say, but this might be the record's defining moment. If you don't dig this one, I don't know that there's much that I can do to help you.

As the pastoral beauty of Turquoise winds down, it's overtaken by a brutal bass and drum attack - some heavily reverberated guitar sets the scene as King takes the whole production down the hellish side of the church of rock. Bury Me With The Bible is a fire and brimstone trip to Dante's seven levels of guitaristic bliss. Now I know why it took the guitarist a couple of years to follow up his debut. This record is deep - a sermon of light in dark times. Dan Whitley, brother of blues genius Chris Whitley lays down a harmonica solo born of the blues, but brandishing a might that Junior Wells never dreamt. I am converted.

The Edge of Forever brings things down just a bit, an acoustic starter that is brought closer and closer to the edge of insanity by insistent drums, a subtly engaging bass line, and some guitar work that cajoles and suggests more than it demands. I don't know much about Mr. King, but I'm guessing there are many levels to be investigated. This is a thinking man's form of visionary blues rock.

Had Roy Buchanan lived, he would have been quite pleased to hear a tune such as 29.10.71. I hope he can hear it now. Few since Roy have tapped quite this deeply into their psyche - it takes balls, and King has balls to spare. Audacious chorus after audacious chorus screams out of his rig as he's accompanied by some sweet, sweet piano playing, sublime kit work by European blues legend Wayne Proctor (without whom this record could not achieve so mightily), and the bass playing of Josh Lattanzi. Beckian in its fusion-y flight, this is another delight - a classic of the genre.

Great Things Never Forgotten might be the closest the album gets to classic blues structure, but that's not all that close, and it graduates into raging rock that evokes live Zep. Molten metal pours down this one like lava from Vesuvius. Hot shit.

Not content to end it easy, there's a challenge that emerges with every track, and it's no different for the set closing Broken Son. A busted up beat waltzes with a disturbed bass to set the stage for a wildly vibrato'd piece of Strat magic leading into King's final novella, this time in instrumental form. It's a tale of some sort, but I'm not sure that I could tell you exactly what the plot is, or where it leads. Maybe it's Wilson T. King's way of telling us that it's best not to get too comfortable - the Future Blues Vibe might be right behind you when you least expect it.

This is a raging, barn burning, son of a bitch of an album. It's not always easy, in fact, it's not meant to be, but it's always worthwhile. I hate calling it a blues record, but I'll damn myself and call it the best blues record of 2012. I gotta think Jimi would have dug it. I'm sorry I never said Pink Floyd throughout the review - there's some suggestion, but it's merely circumstantial.

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