W.C. Clark

Record Review

Phases and Stages

W.C. Clark

From Austin With Soul (Alligator) W.C. Clark spends most of his time on the road these days, and for this reason locals sometimes take him for granted. After all, the guitarist has been a stalwart of the local blues scene for as long as any of us can remember, over 30 years now. Well, let me tell you, Clark is back with a passion, and he's laid down the gauntlet for all those ubiquitous SRV wannabes who continue to flock to our fair city. Take note, y'all. After three critically acclaimed projects for the now-defunct Black Top label, one of which garnered him a coveted W.C. Handy Award for Best Soul/Blues Album, the "Godfather" of the Austin blues scene raises the ante on this debut for the independent Alligator imprint, the premier blues label in the biz. The result is a glorious homegrown affair, recorded and produced south of the river at Arlyn Studios with a cadre of crack local musicians, that stands proudly as the most satisfying set of good rockin', soul-drenched blues to come out of Austin in quite some time. Clark's potent combination of gritty Texas guitar blues and shuffles wedded to the smooth, gospel-rich Stax/Hi sound of Memphis is a total knockout. Two of the many highlights here include a saucy romp with homegirl and labelmate Marcia Ball on the Ike & Tina-esque "Don't Mess Up a Good Thing," followed by a devastating vocal performance by Clark on the heartbreaking soul ballad, "How Long Is a Heartache Supposed to Last?" that wrings out every last drop of emotion. Welcome home, W.C., we've missed you.

****

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