Some albums are timeless. Uncle Walt’s Band’s self titled debut is one of them. The South Carolina trio originally released their debut in ’74, then titled “Blame it on the Bossanova”. This self produced run of LPs quickly sold out, and after relocating to Austin, the trio re-released their debut with a different track order and simply titled, “Uncle Walt’s Band.” Now, Omnivore Recordings has reissued this timeless debut with a virtual treasure trove of bonus material. In addition to the original 11 tracks, the new edition adds 11 bonus tracks; 7 demo and 4 live tracks. Additionally the liner notes have been vastly expanded with new photos, a track by track, history as well as accolades from many artists that the trio influenced including Willis Alan Ramsey, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Marcia Ball, Lyle Lovett and more. The release has an almost box set feel with it’s intricate attention to detail.
Uncle Walt’s Band was somewhat unique in their time. Heck, I suppose they still are. Blending a country foundation with elements of bluegrass picking, jazz and an almost Beatles like flavor. But the real kicker for the trio was the absolutely beautiful blend of hamonies. Comprised of Walter Hyatt’s full sounding rhythm guitar, Champ Hood’s eclectic Django Reinhardt styled leads and David Ball bass foundation, these boys were making the finest Americana before it was even a genre.
I’ve owned the Sugar Hill reissue of this album which has yet a another different track order, for a few decades. Omnivore’s reissue is a distinct upgrade in every way. Mastered by Michael Graves and produced by Mark Michel and Cheryl Paweleski, the sound is simply magical. The instruments are all upfront in the mix, and the vocal harmonies simply wrap around you like a favorite warm blanket. Favorites are many, with “High Hill”, “Ruby” and”Little Sadie” being highlights for me. Even the demo and live bonus cuts sound better than expected. While not as crisp as the original tracks, they still manage to shine. “Rolling My Blues” “Early Riser” and “Rock Island Line” stood out for me.
One can only hope that the remainder of Uncle Walt’s Band catalog is destined to be treated to the same love that Omnivore Recordings has given the debut. One can certainly hope, right?
Those boys from Carolina sure could sing.
You can purchase your copy of this classic album here: http://omnivorerecordings.com/