Review: Monster Mike Welch – Nothing But Time


Monster Mike Welch - Nothing But Time

Monster Mike Welch – Nothing But Time
Format: CD – Digital / Label: Gulf Coast Records
Release: 2023

Tekst: Bert van Kessel

Mike Welch has finally managed to equal the astonishing level of his phenomenal debut album “These Blues Are Mine with which he burst onto the international blues scene in 1996 as an adolescent guitar prodigy. He was given his nickname Monster Mike by Blues Brother Dan Ayckroyd when he was only thirteen.

After stints with Sugar Ray Norcia and Mike Ledbetter he fought a long battle with Covid, thinking he would never play the guitar again. But he is back and on fire; demonstrating his relief and enthusiasm in dazzling soloing throughout this thrilling album. His return to form culminated in his being signed for Mike Zito’s Gulf Coast Records and recording these fourteen tracks in Kid Andersen’s renowned Greaseland Studios; There are ten originals, two from Robert Johnson, one from Buddy Guy, and another from George Harrison,whose intimate miniature I Me Mine is given a surprise makeover with due respect to the original.

Mike Welch is undoubtedly an immensely talented guitar player whose play isn’t all about showing off and fireworks; But like his inspirations Albert King and Magic Sam he is a master of melody using the notes to accentuate those melodies instead of just brandishing his technique. The tracks are really diverse but he has managed to create a coherent whole with his convincing vocals and stellar fretwork. Monster Mike immediately presents his calling card in the opening track, taking his searing Stratocaster to immense heights, on the take-no-prisoners blues  Walking to You Baby. Rick Estrin’s masterful harmonica colours a passionate rendition of Robert Johnson’s If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day

The title track features horns and  background singers with Mike demonstrating his excellent form. Offswitch Blues features Kid Andersen’s rollicking barroom piano and an infectious B3; the horn section again excels on I Ain’t Saying. Mike really lets go on  Losing Every Battle.

Hard to Get Along With is  an ardent traditional blues song which is delivered with true power and emotion , both in his vocals and feisty guitar. 

Amidst all that power Buddy Guy’s slow blues Ten Years Ago gives us the opportunity to catch our breath before Mike takes off again on the nearly ten-minute-long Afraid of My Own Tears (Parts 1&2), a co-write with his former mentor George Lewis. It provides a monumental stage for some virtuoso melodic soloing. The captivating album closes off with an acoustic performance of Robert Johnson’s Kind Hearted Woman Blues.Even Mike’s falsetto sounds convincing here.

In spite of the album title I wonder if there is enough time in 2023 to come up with a better blues album.

01. Walking to You Baby – Mike Welch
02. If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day – Robert Johnson
03. I’ve Got Nothing But Time – Mike Welch
04. I Me Mine – George Harrison
05. Offswitch Blues – Mike Welch
06. I Ain’t Sayin’ – Mike Welch
07. In Case You Care – Mike Welch
08. Time to Move – Mike Welch
09. Losing Every Battle – Mike Welch
10. Hard to Get Along With – Mike Welch
11. Jump for Joy – Mike Welch
12. Ten Years Ago – Buddy Guy
13. Afraid of My Own Tears Parts 1 & 2 – Mike Welch/George Lewis
14. Kind Hearted Woman Blues – Robert Johnson