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Mike Wilhelm

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Album Review

This batch of solo material isn't much different from what the Charlatans played in the late 1960s, though Wilhelm's voice, of course, is at the forefront all the time instead of some of the time. His gruff singing lacks depth and power, but does have a certain wry charm. The same could be said of the songs themselves; this isn't compelling stuff, but its versatility is admirable. At times he sounds very much like early Captain Beefheart in the blues-rock Safe As Milk phase, though not as weird or forceful. Check "Styrofoam," for instance, with its nifty blues guitar and growly vocals, yet with lyrics weirder than almost anything that would get into a bar band's set. "Goin' to Canada" approaches straightforward folk-rock, yet "Make Me a Pallet on Your Floor" wouldn't be too out of place on the soundtrack of a Western, with its rollicking saloon piano. The cover of John Phillips' dramatic folk ballad "Me and My Uncle" is the high point, with a gripping arrangement and ingenious touches of Wild West sound effects and strings.


Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '70s

Wilhelm was an important member of two San Francisco Bay Area groups, in two different decades. In the 1960s, he was a guitarist and songwriter for the Charlatans, often identified as one of the very first San Francisco psychedelic groups, although they were more appropriately described as mixers of blues, folk, jugband, and nineteenth century saloon music. In the late 1970s, he joined the Flamin' Groovies on guitar for a while. There is also some solo material by Wilhelm in which he comes across...
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Mike Wilhelm, Mike Wilhelm
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