MIKE WHEELER BAND
DELMARK RECORDS DE 845
SWEET GIRL–YOU WON’T DO RIGHT–YEAH!–BRAND NEW CADILLAC–TALKING TO MYSELF–TURN UP!–NOTHING LASTS FOREVER–I CAN’T DO THAT–LIVING MY DREAM–A BLIND MAN CAN SEE–THAT’S WHAT LOVE WILL MAKE YOU DO–I’M HOOKED–SAD STATE OF THE WORLD
Mike Wheeler continues to front one of the tightest, hardest-working bands on the Windy City scene, and he’s back and better than ever with his second release for Delmark, “Turn Up!” A mighty guitarist for more than thirty years, he’s played with all the greats, including Demetria Taylor and Jimmy Johnson. This set showcases not only his playing and singing, but his composing prowess as well, with twelve of the thirteen cuts being band originals. Mike’s on vocals and guitar, and Brian James is on keys. Larry Williams on bass and Cleo Cole on drums hold down the bottom, and the Chicago Horns, Kenny Anderson on trumpet and Hank Ford on sax round things out.
Mike’s influences are much akin to ours—straight-blues, R & B, funk and rock, and he gives you a little taste of ’em all. He really lets loose on the cuts that blend the R & B with the blues. Dig the leadoff “Sweet Girl” and the title cut, where Mike tells a lover that “I Turn Up when I’m with you–you turn me on, that’s what you do!” He gets down’n’ dirty with the grungy buzzsaw guitar of “Brand New Cadillac,” and flashes seven minutes of slow-blues bliss with “Even A Blind Man Can See you no longer love me!” The set closes on a hopeful note of positivity, with the “Sad State Of The World today.” Mike’s impassioned vocals, asking for “love, not hate,” and Brian’s piano work give this one a gospel-infused, sanctified vibe,
We had plenty of favorites, too. A stone shot of pure Chicago blues deals with the lack of communication between lovers—“ta;king to you, baby, is like Talking To Myself.” This one rides a sweet, danceable groove all the way thru. And, “Yeah!” chronicles a funky story of missed opportunities for romance on the dance floor, and the JB-styled horns make it irresistible!
If you are gonna play the blues in Chi-Town, you better come hard or get back on the porch. The Mike Wheeler Band, with “Turn Up!,” has done just that, as he continues to live his dream of being not only one of the best players in Chicago, but on the whole planet!! Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.