JAMBANDS.COM -- PULSE cd review is up on Jambands.com at this link
Moon Haw Records
If you listen to Pulse without doing your homework first, I double-dang guarantee you you’re going to be tearing into the liner notes (and then probably Wikipedia) saying, “Wait – is this the Jim Weider who played with The Band? The Tele guy?” Well, I can save the uninformed a little bit of trouble: yes, this is the same Jim Weider that joined forces with Levon Helm and the gang back in the '80s (and is doing some sit-ins with Levon this year, as well). And, yes, this is the same guy whose peers consider him a Telecaster master and has even laid down instructional videos on rockabilly licks and nailing “that classic Fender sound.”
But ohhh, mama: this ain’t no rockabilly record. Pulse is a great instrumental album by a band that simply rips. And though Weider pulls off much of what you hear on the same vintage equipment he’s been picking for years, there’s little twang to be found here: what his old Teles do is soar, growl, sing, cry, whisper, roar, and shake their asses.
Though the Project Percolator name has existed for a few years, Pulse represents the first studio release by the powerful quartet. What you have here is basically Weider and the latter-day Herminators (or Ethereal Distortion as they are now known): Steve Lucas on bass, Rodney Holmes on drums, and Mitch Stein on guitar. “Wait!” you may cry, “I don’t know the Herminators, but didn’t Rodney and Mitch play with Steve Kimock for a few years?” You are correct, my friend: coupled with a revolving cast of bassists, the pair did hold down their end of the Steve Kimock Band just fine. But truth be known, Pulse finds Stein and Holmes doing some of their best playing to date; there’s something about the setting with Weider and Lucas that allows them to be more free and take more chances than they did in SKB (Stein especially) while maintaining an absolute band vibe. It may be Jim Weider’s band, but it’s a band.
The album-opening “Squirrels In Paris” sets the tone with powerhouse drumming from Holmes leading the way; although there’s ripping guitar a-plenty courtesy of both Weider and Stein, “Squirrels” is more than six minutes of excuse to shred. Themes of melody and/or rhythm connect one passage to another with the song being a neat mix of this-meets-that and letting it all hang out. Don’t try this at home, kids – these guys are pros.
Themes run from sweet and dreamy (“Talking With You” and “Dreamline”) to raucous and driving (“No Exit Strategy”, “Green Zone”). When the going gets funky on “Release Yourself,” the Percolator brings in Sam Butler and his children, Sam III and daughter Samia, to lay down the gospel with background vocals that fit the bill perfectly. Weider leads the way to the mountaintop with a solo that breaks loose of the traditional blues-based rave-up and veers into territory that sounds more Buddhist than Baptist – but it never feels pushed or forced. “Two Worlds” is a great showcase for Weider’s slide work, but the show is stolen by an absolutely beautiful acoustic guitar solo by Mitch Stein; it’s only about 40 seconds long, but they’re perfect seconds.
Pulse is a fine piece of work by a veteran musician who not only proves he can jam with the best of them – he’s built a band out of some of the best, as well.