Joe Louis Walker review…June 24, 2014…

JOE LOUIS WALKER

THE BEST OF THE STONY PLAIN YEARS

STONY PLAIN CD  SPCD 1375

EYES LIKE A CAT–HIGHVIEW–HUSTLIN–BLACK WIDOW SPIDER–I’M TIDE–SUGAR MAMA–SLOW DOWN GTO–AIN’T THAT COLD–YOU’RE GONNA MAKE ME CRY–SEND YOU BACK–WITNESS

Joe Louis Walker’s career as a bluesman  began in the Eighties, with several releases on the Hightone label.    Prior to that, Joe was a gospel singer for the Spiritual Corinthians, giving his voice that fire and passion that has served him well all the way thru his election into the Blues Hall Of Fame in 2013.   An international star of the highest order, Joe recorded three albums for Stony Plain Records from 2008-2010, and “The  Best Of The Stony Plain Years” celebrates the cream of those three sets, and Holger Petersen has done a  fantastic job of pleasing those who prefer his vocals or his guitar work, with buge helpings of each.

Leading off is  “Eyes Like A Cat,” a  swingin’ affair with keys from Bruce Katz  and harp from Sugar Ray Norcia.  “I’m Tide” follows a similar vein, with a propulsive beat and structure that lends itself to another Bay Area legend, Huey Lewis, with whom Joe recorded back in those Hightone days.  Johnny Winter guests on “Ain’t That Cold,” the tale of a woman addicted to that “midnight creepin,”  and both giants burn up the frets for all they are worth on this one.

That gospel-trained voice shines through for Joe on a scintillating live version of “You’re Gonna Make Me Cry” with Curtis Salgado and Mike Finnigan.  And, the set closes with a message of affirmation and hope, as “Witness” reminds us that altho we may feel alone, there’s always one who will listen.

We had two favorites, too.  “Slow Down GTO” is an all-out rocker regarding Joe’s penchant for driving his “black-on-black Pontiac” just a little too fast!  And, Joe not only plays guitar but blows his own harp on the killer mid-tempo groove of “Sugar Mama.”

With his election into the Blues Hall Of Fame, Joe Louis Walker has solidified his legacy.   “Best Of The Stony Plain Years”  serves as a fine overview of his tenure with one of the most respected labels in the world today.  Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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