March 2005

Webb Wilder - It Came From Nashville
Landslide Records -- LDCD 1029
Format: CD
Originally released: 1986
Reissue released: 2004

by Joseph Taylor

Musical Performance ***1/2
Recording Quality ****
Overall Enjoyment ***1/2

Wearing his wide-brimmed hat and old-style glasses, Webb Wilder looks like the guy in the accounting department everyone avoids at the company Christmas party. Wilder, who hosts a popular show on XM satellite radio, began his recording career with It Came From Nashville, a collection of live and studio tracks he released in 1986. Landslide Records has reissued that debut in a sparkling remaster with six live bonus tracks, augmented with Wilder’s onstage commentary. He and his band, the Beatnecks, are experts at playing music that celebrates the spring-loaded reverb in old tube amps. Their specialty is stomping roots-based rock, but they also play exhilaratingly wacky instrumentals that take their cue from the Ventures and '60s B-movie soundtracks.

Wilder has an engagingly surreal sense of humor, but he also brings a craftsman’s precision to his music. He introduces a cover of Steve Earle’s "Devil’s Right Hand" with the announcement that he and his band have never fooled with the occult, not even "Jimmy Page’s photo collection." The drummer then counts the band off and they tear off a hard-charging version of the tune. Wilder knows how to write a good pop tune, too. "How Long Can She Last" and "One Taste of the Bait" are well rooted in the music Wilder loves, but filled with enough hooks to be radio friendly. Wilder’s tight, hopping band plays for keeps, especially Donny "The Twangler" Roberts, whose guitar solos carry an electric jolt. The recording has a bright, lively sound that well captures the musicians’ energy.

Landslide should quickly reissue Wilder’s great discs from the '90s, Doo Dadd (1991) and Acres of Suede (1996). Anyone who loves roots rock played fiercely and delivered with a sense of humor should become acquainted with this music.