Uncle Walt’s Band – Recorded Live at the Waterloo Ice House
This trio of Austin, Texas artists captured live in 1982 (Omnivore Recordings, drops Feb. 5) includes previously unissued alternate takes; strap yourself in for a 21-cut collection with the late Walter Hyatt (guitar/vocals), the late Deschamps Hood (guitar/fiddle/3-octave range vocals – 5-time recipient of the Austin Best String Player Award) & David Ball (bass/vocals).
Produced by Fletcher Clarke (the reissue produced by Mark Michel & Cheryl Pawelski). The set was recorded/restored (Michael Graves/engineer) impeccably to sound almost studio quality some 39 years since it was performed. The tunes were originally released as a private pressing (14 cuts) & some stand out more than others. Many covered by major artists since they were issued.
“Love Has Laid Me Down,” is a gorgeous ballad played with finesse. What’s interesting is how some songs that weren’t originally of this genre show listeners how music is adapted & rearranged to fit an alt-country showcase. The classic “Stagger Lee,” is energetic. The trio all sang & wrote originals — the diversification is dazzling. A cover of “Since I Fell for You,” is beautifully rendered. Though it won’t replace the original it’s still an inspired performance.
This is alt-country type Crosby, Stills & Nash (as exemplified on “Eddie’s Girl”). The performances are driven like Poco stirred with Gram Parsons/Lyle Lovett/Jimmie Dale Gilmore/Jerry Jeff Walker. While not all cuts work (“Early Morning Love” – a bit lame & MOR) the majority are well-played, sung & the camaraderie is evident. “Motor City Man,” & “Country Boy,” includes a fiddle that possesses a clear Charlie Gearheart-Goose Creek Symphony tradition.
A cover of a 1959 Cliff Richards song later covered by Elvis Presley (1960) “I Gotta Know,” (flip side of #1 hit “Are You Lonesome Tonight”) was a pleasant surprise. Excellent. On “Lose Me Baby,” the trio sings a Hood composition with inspired Elvis-inflection.
What’s apparent on these early originals — each artist had the potential to go solo. Dave Ball’s “What Have You Done with My Love,” with its added Spanish lyrics has the trio singing in a potent Everly Brothers/Skip & Flip style. They continue effectively with Hyatt-Hood’s “I’m Going to Break My Heart in Two,” with fluid acoustic interplay. “Just a Little Understanding,” has an early Beatle-ballad approach.
Hyatt’s “Diggaroo,” is the most upbeat & a good vocal with fiddle comes on “Snowing Me Under.” The applause doesn’t sound like hundreds of people – so it must’ve been a small intimate crowd who were treated to these live performances. These compiled sets at best were wonderfully entertaining & memorable 1982 evenings.
RIP Mr. Hyatt & Hood. Dave Ball went on to a solo career & had a hit country LP in 1994 with “Thinkin’ Problem.” At 67 Dave is still musically active.
The 1-hour single CD has a stitched insert. Available at https://unclewaltsband.com/