Omar Dykes review…July 6, 2013…

OMAR DYKES

RUNNIN WITH THE WOLF

PROVOGUE PRD 74042

RUNNIN’ WITH THE WOLF–KILLIN’ FLOOR–THE RED ROOSTER–HOWLIN’ FOR MY BABY–SPOONFUL–OOH BABY, HOLD ME–RIDING IN THE MOONLIGHT–WHO’S BEEN TALKIN’–BACK DOOR MAN–WORRIED ALL THE TIME–SMOKESTACK LIGHTNING–DO THE DO–I’M LEAVIN’ YOU–TELL ME WHAT I’VE DONE–WANG DANG DOODLE

 

Sam Phillips recorded Howlin’ Wolf, born Chester Arthur Burnett, at the Sun Studios in Memphis, subsequently leasing the masters to the Chess brothers in Chicago,  which eventually placed  the Wolf into blues immortality.  However,Phillips saw more in the Wolf than just dollar signs, stating that the power, emotion, and substance of his gravelly vocal delivery was akin to “a place where the soul of man never dies.”  In listening to Omar Dykes, he, too, possesses that same raspy, gargled-with-Drano vocal style, and it is only fitting that Omar do a tribute to the Wolf.  It’s entitled “Runnin’ With The Wolf,” and is fourteen of the Wolf’s best, and one original that fits in beautifully.

Omar is joined on this stellar effort by some of the best backing players in the business, and they all have the same reverence for Wolf’s music that Omar does.  The party starts with the Omar original, dedicated to the Wolf’s memory, which is the driving title cut.  It name-checks most of the titles of Wolf’s best-known works, and has fine harp from Ted Roddy.  Omar lays down some fierce rockabilly-style licks on “Howlin’ For My Baby,” and again on the Texas twang of “Worried All The Time.”  “I’m Leavin’ You” follows a sweet, call-and-response, stop-time pattern, while the unmistakable riff of “Smokestack Lightnin” is again embellished by Omar’s vocal inflections and Roddy’s harp.

Willie Dixon wrote several cuts for the Wolf, and they give the uptown “spit and polish” to Wolf’s recording of them.  Omar does “Do The Do” with a rhumba beat (and Kaz Kazanoff’s sax), and “Wang Dang Doodle” is done in tribute to Hubert Sumlin to close the set.

Favorites were obviously hard to choose, but we had two that we’ve always enjoyed, and Omar leaves his special stamp on each of them.  The minor-key classic “leavin’ song” is “Who’s Been Talkin,” and has Omar realizing all too late that he’s “the causin’ of it all,” with that catchy riff  embellished by Kaz’s sax, and Nick Connolly’s organ.  And, Omar has the most fun with a spirited “The Red Rooster,” which shifts between clever bits of single-note “chicken-pickin” to an all-out fiery solo at the bridge.

As omar sings in the title cut, Howlin’ Wolf was “a tail dragger,” “a po’ boy,” and, the quintessential “back door man,” and Omar Dykes is the only singer on the planet that could pull off a tribute as cool as this one.  This set is one of those that you wish was about an hour longer, so—-Omar, is there a Volume Two of “Runnin’ With The Wolf” up your sleeve somewhere?   Un til next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Advertisements

2 responses to this post.

  1. Thank you, Don and Sheryl, for this amazing review and your kind words! I am deeply grateful for your compliment that I am the only singer on the planet that could pull off a tribute as cool as Runnin’ with the Wolf. That is probably the best compliment I have received in 50 years of playing the blues. Thank you for your unending support of my music and all the best to our blues fans in Nashville! Omar Dykes

    Reply

  2. Omar, it was a tremendous pleasure to review your Wolf tribute. It’s true, too, that nobody has the voice or the love for Wolf’s music like you do, and I’m sure ol’ Chester is smiling down on you from blues Heaven for keeping his memory alive! We’ve been fans of yours all the way back to “Hard Times In The Land Of Plenty” I guess about ’86 or so, and we enjoy all your albums. Thanks to you, too, for your kind words about our review, as they are always appreciated!

    Don

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: