|BluesWax Rating: || 7|
|Reader Rating: || 6|
Worth Pursuing, (11/21/07)
"Piano Bob" Wilder received the B.B. King Lucille Award from The Blues Foundation for winning the 1992 International Blues Challenge (then called the National Amateur Blues Talent Competition). Recognized for his skill of playing a wide catalogue of recognized Blues classics, "Piano Bob" Wilder's album Piano Bob's 88s - Big Beat Blues is a fine collection of twelve Blues or Blues-related standards. In much the way that Rod Stewart or Tony Bennett mined American song standards, Wilder's latest is a fine collection that is well played. Singer Lou Abbott's vocals are well suited for the songs selected. However, unlike Stewart, this album will probably not sell millions of copies or justify three volumes. This is a souvenir piece designed to sell off the stage.
Even the most nubile of Blues fans will recognize the majority of tunes on this tapestry, including "Shake Rattle and Roll," "Blue Monday," Chuck Berry's "You Never Can Tell," and Huey Piano Smith's "Sea Cruise." Apparently a fan of the New Orleans keyboard sound, Wilder includes a tasty Roland Byrd track, "In the Night." Byrd, of course, the birth name for the famed Professor Longhair.
All in all this is a very nice album that would be an excellent gift for someone wanting to connect with a wider range of mid-era Blues-based piano players. The songs are very well done, although being an album of covers songs certainly limits the creativity or long-term importance of Wilder's release. That said, thank goodness guys like Wilder practice and share their love of classic songs as it is a terrific place for budding as well as established fans to go in pursuit of new musical trails. Wilder's passion is contagious and his skills are keeping the Blues alive for the next generation to enjoy. Godspeed Bob Wilder and thank you.
Rick Galusha is a contributing editor at BluesWax