Welton, Craig - Hollywood Legend

Year of Release: 2002
Label: independent
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 46:37:00

Multi-instrumentalist Craig Welton died in October of last year at 49 from a massive aortic aneurism. Hollywood Legend is the posthumous release of material compiled and given a rough mix by his brother Kent, taken from 4-track tapes that Craig had collected over some period of time. The tapes were then "final-mixed, de-noised, and fine tuned" by Ken Klimak at Barking Dog Studio. There are two CDs of music here, the first a 12-song collection of jazz inflected vocal tracks, the second a 17-piece collection of jazz inflected instrumentals. Welton was not a shredder, but a guitarist that new the value of a well placed note. Despite the raw production sound, this much comes through on even the sketchiest of pieces. Besides guitar, the most recognizable element is the electric piano (which sounds like a Rhodes to me, but I won't go out on that limb). This gives the pieces on which it appears a warm, liquid-like feel. Welton also plays piano, something heard in particular on the lush "Deadlock," a piece that also features another one of his solos. Welton, too, plays bass, organ, synth as well as drum machines. This latter element is not often heard in the mix, keyboards and guitar being the instruments of focus. A couple of pieces on the vocals disc, might nearly be considered instrumentals, the vocals are sparse and serve more as accents than anything else.

The music on the first disk is very much tied to the sound and feel of late 70s, where we can accurately make reference to artists such as Steely Dan, Dire Straits, Firefall, and, especially in the electric piano, of Atlantic Rhythmic Section, as well as others that had jazz and blues inflected rock sound. One track that stands out is the Hendrix homage "I Don't Feel Dead" (and there's no small irony in that), where Welton has, for the most part, not only Hendrix's vocal tone, but even how he might have phrased the lyrics. The guitar work is more fluid than fiery, as Hendrix was known for, but in those solo lines you can't help but think of Hendrix. What sounds like a Rhodes piano opens the very next track, the light, airy and sparse "Light Air," a track that seems to channel the warm, mellow, laidback jazzy feel of classic Steely Dan. Welton plays some very tasty guitar lines here. Take a dash of Steely Dan's "FM," a dash of the Atlantic Rhythm Section's "Imaginary Lover," through in a bit of Firefall and stir it up together out would come "It'll Be Okay." "Cold Future" goes in a different direction, the sound darkening, getting heavier. Though it doesn't really sound like it, what came to mind was The Who's "Bargain." "Play With Me" recalls that fat guitar sound of the 50s and 60s, but also a bit of The Band. "Woman" has a bar lounge feel to it, an impression brought about mainly by the organ, but also by the sparse arrangement and the mellow delivery from Welton. "Floating To Mars," on the second disk, has a wide open Midwest feel with rolling piano, strong, solid drumming. Disc two opens with the the piano based, somewhat spacey "Knosus," and moving through the guitar lead "Victim From Space," which, as good as it is, sounds a lot like what the typical jazz influenced guitar track would sound like. "Gone Neptune" is Welton's contemporary instrumental entry, that would feel right at home alongside many an artist on the Miramar label (yes, that means you can think of latter day Tangerine Dream). It is here (and later on the funkier "Thumpin'") where synths and the drum machines are felt the most of any previous piece (such that I'm not sure the former has been heard on a previous piece). Over this, Welton solos exuberantly, joyfully. "Prague" moves back into that ARS feel again for a bit, before moving into a Midwesterner mindset. "Aires" is very subtle, more wispy than even ambient, it is like music being heard from a great distance that you only get snatches of. There's an underlying classicism to "Stinkin' Operetto" and reminded me of Emerson's take on "Romeo And Juliet." "The Wait" has a southern rock feel to it.

Because there is full instrumentation here, these are more than just Welton noodlings or practicing. There's a direction to the pieces, even if, as I said, they seem in rough form. There's an accessibility to the music, too, that suggests that Welton wasn't writing and recording music merely to entertain himself. And, in fact, a second release is planned, that is said to include music that Welton recorded with others.

If you want a comparable artist style wise, I'd suggest Rick Ray. However, unlike Ray, there is a great deal of variety in Welton's pieces. But I'd suggest that both have been moved by the same musical muse of guitar based rock. Welton was, however, a more well-rounded musician, which gives the pieces a fuller feel, despite the lack of true production.

Disc One: Gonna Be Somebody (4:22) / Do What's Wrong (2:42) / Nowhere In The World (3:26) / I Don't Feel Dead (4:39) / Light Air (4:41) / It'll Be Okay (3:43) / Cold Future (4:03) / Lookout Mountain (2:22) / Play With Me (4:21) / Remember You By (4:19) / Woman (2:09) / Travel Away (5:45)

Knosus (3:47), Victim Of Space (3:04), 20 Years Late (2:38), Cool Fool (5:16), Visions of Life (2:17), Deadlock (4:09), Floating To Mars (3:38), Funky Dog (2:51), Gone Neptune (4:15), Prague (5:44), Psycho Ramble (4:19), Skewbald (2:49), Aires (4:34), Smitty's Blues (3:17), Stinkin' Operetto (5:23), The Wait (3:58), Thumpin' (4:15)

Craig Welton ? piano, guitar, bass, organ, synth, drum machines and vocals

Hollywood Legend (2002)

Genre: Other

Origin US

Added: May 18th 2003
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.craigwelton.com
Hits: 696
Language: english


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