Bill Wence is an interesting cat. In the 70s, he aspired to be a song writer, did a stint as a Nashville DJ, and then got picked up by Tom T. Hall as a keyboardist, sitting in 800 times (whoa!!!) with the country great. From there, tours with Jeannie C. Riley, Bobby Bare, Slim Whitman, and others eventuated. While pursing that career, he also started up a management and promotion business that has garnered attention and award nominations. Not long ago, the guy decided to put some of his own music out and issued 4 hit singles followed by California Callin' in 2001 and then Songs from the Rocky Fork Tavern in 2007. Well, it's now 2012, and if you, like me, weren't all that familiar with the guy, Analog Man in a Digital World is going to change that in a hurry.
Wence's approach is folk-country but very atypical, imbued with sunshine and damn good feelings, a sense of humor pervading everything as well as a zest just for lving. The man's not on a downer, though experiences may have been up and down, and Thirty Years kinda centers that feeling, a swinging ditty on realizations coming a bit late in life. It ain't his song, but he knows why he chose it and sings with amusement and conviction. A lot of very cool musicians backed him up, including two cats from the Amazing Rhythm Aces, and you'll hear more than a few rockin' strains from the Aces, The Atlanta Rhythm Section, and other hip bands, though, frankly, and it's probably heresy to say so, I'll take his work over theirs 'cause, when he's deadnails on it, he's a lot more alive and hip than they ever were.
At times, you'll hear refrains of Mungo Jerry, Jimmy Buffett,and Hoyt Axton with a distant nod to Franki Valli and Dion (Kathy Please), though Bill over-reached in covering Unchained Melody. Not really his fault, as that song's a stone bitch, and I'm not sure it's been done right since the Righteous Bros. tackled the tune in the 60s. Speaking of that era, Johnny Rivers—and, man, there's an undersung past titan if there ever was one!—put it best when he heard Analog Man and wrote back that "these days it's hard to find honest straight ahead music without overproduced gimmicks". Damn straight, Johnny, and with such goodhearted élan, too. You're going to find yourself smiling, y'all, as you listen to Bill Wence.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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