At first, Webb Wilder seemed like a novelty act. He wore the glasses and the suits, he had that basso profundo vocal trick, and his songs were a bit nonsensical. But seeing him perform live made it obvious that this was a man steeped in the traditions of rock, country and soul, and that he believed in his music as something more than just a joke. In fact, a good Webb Wilder concert can convince anyone that this guy is for real.
The albums have always been good, but not quite the revelations that come from the shows. This new one is pretty much like the old ones, only with a greater concentration on cover material calculated to cause ecstasy in hard-core record collectors. Songs made famous (if that’s the right word) by the Flamin’ Groovies (“Ju Ju Man”), Roky Erickson (“Don’t Slander Me”), Larry Williams (or the Animals or the Rolling Stones) (“She Said Yeah”), Percy Sledge (“Sudden Stop”), and Eddie Hinton (“Still Water Runs Deep”) are given respectfully raucous treatments.
On the other hand, they serve to point out the flaws in Wilder’s own writing. While the title track is a clever and seductive soul groove with a bit of life to it, other songs come off as John Hiatt, Nick Lowe, or Tom Petty knockoffs. Nothing necessarily wrong with that, but nothing memorable, either.
Wilder sings well, and his band rocks hard (and lays down nicely on the ballads). There is passion, integrity, and plenty of pleasure to be found throughout this album. We would be well off if there were a whole lot more like More Like Me.
Webb Wilder performing the album track “Come Around” in TN, 2-13-09.