304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124
304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124
Glaswegian man of the world and musician extraordinaire Wily Bo Walker has numerous quality releases under his belt, many of which you’ll find reviewed here on Bluesdoodles, all easily found using the search facility.
For his latest work, Wily has teamed up again with Danny Flam to regale us with his unique blend of humour and darkness: Ain’t No Man A Good Man is available as a deluxe edition with an additional ten tracks selected from three previous albums…here I will concentrate on the ten new tracks that make up yet another slice of genius from Wily that encompasses blues, soul, gospel rock, jazz and some of his own invention! (Although the remastered versions on that bonus are very worthwhile.)
Kicking off (literally) with the title track, we are quickly into the horn filled rhythm and blues he is so good at…throw in a bit of his theatrical nous, a bit of soul and tasteful guitar throughout and a superbly paced solo, and it soon becomes irresistible. Fool For Your Love has been revisited by Wily as he does an update on Bahamian Stone McEwan’s neat song. This time the basic rhythm is exploited, developed and backed by lovely slide (pity the solo didn’t materialise fully) that makes for a horny song in every sense! Did I Forget is next and stays firmly in the blues but in a distinct 50s vein evoking Fats on that fruitful hill. A nicely understated sax solo keeps the mood just right and listen to the great guitar fairly low in the mix as the song concludes. Velvet Windows is awash with lovely keys behind the boogie riff (plus a considered and quality solo) and the lyrics are a delight as Wily shows that irrepressible and sharp humour: the bass is also a major highlight. Walking With The Devil is an early favourite because of the lovely slide and tone of the lead guitar as Wily growls the story in his cinematic fashion. Night Of The Hunter is revisited with added horns but still allows the tasty guitars to shine as this extract from Wily’s “three penny rock opera” unfolds. From his Rattlin’ Bones opus, comes a reworking of the voodoo blues song, Ain’t Hungry No More. This time the vague reggae feel of the original is much more pronounced and it works well with the keys and guitar excursions bringing blues depth. Time To Forget is next and brings R’n’B to the fore with a bias to the blues part. The guitar solo is blues distilled as no superfluous notes are slotted…just feeling. Next up is St James Infirmary Blues is often credited to the legend that was Irving Mills, a music publisher, musician, lyricist and promoter. Earlier songs based around the melody and theme are credited to Don Redman as on the Loius Armstrong release…whatever in Wily’s hands the theatre is obviously the mindset of the intro with a great bass line romping behind the melody. The key solo is inspired; as is the brilliant guitar solo. Final track, Build My Gallows brings a string quartet into play and, combined with the great slide guitar work, makes this a cracking track to close this fine album.
As always, Wily brings class and listenability to this new album and is one of the best exponents in the use of horns to enhance and not bury the rest of the band’s abilities. This is the sort of album that suits every mood…all at once!
If you’re new to Wily’s work, this is good place to start (especially if you go for the deluxe edition). If you’re already familiar with his work…it is essential.
1. Ain’t No Man A Good Man
2. Fool For You (2020 Hindsight) – Stone McEwan
3. Did I Forget Velvet Windows (Tremé Trippin’)
4. Talking With The Devil (Blood On My Hands) – Wily Bo Walker, E D Brayshaw
4. Night Of The Hunter
5. Ain’t Hungry No More
6. Time To Forget You – Wily Bo Walker, Karena K, Jimmy Dean Brooks
7. St James Infirmary Blues – Irving Mills
8. Build My Gallows…(Ain’t No Return)
All written by Wily Bo Walker except where indicated
Wily Bo Walker – Lead Vocals, guitar, bass, banjo, percussion and Storytelling
Danny Flam & The New York Brass:
Danny Flam – Trombones, Trumpets, Sousaphone, Hammond and backing vocals
Tony Gorruso – Trumpet
Ron Bertolet – Saxophones
Kenny Rampton – Trumpet
Mark Gatz – Saxophones
Mike McGovern – Trumpet
Nir Naaman – Saxophone
Steve Withoft – Trombone
Alex Bland – Tenor saxophone
Kareña K – Keyboards, Percussion and Backing Vocals
Guitar: Mike Ross, Pete Farrugia, Troy Redfern, Geoff Slater & Keith Mack
Keyboards: Stevie Watts, Paul Long, Benjy King, Ruslan Agababayev
Bass: Tommy Rhodes, Neville L’Green, Clarky, Tom Welsch
Drums: Max Saidi, Marc Ambrosino, Fran Asias, Anthony Sullivan
The Brown Sisters of Chicago Gospel Choir:
Adrienne, Andrea and Vanessa Brown
The Cenovia Cummins String Quartet:
Cenovia Cummins: Violin
Louise Owen: Violin
Alissa Smith: Viola
Laura Bontrager: Cello
Backing Vocals (St James Infirmary Blues): E D Brayshaw, Li’l Neil
(The iTunes run on track was more Wily Bo from The Roads We Ride followed by some high quality rock from the ever wonderful Argus by Wishbone Ash.)