Wily Bo is back with Tales of the Mescal Canyon Troubadours
… no roadrunners in sight!
No stranger to the pages of Bluesdoodles, Wily Bo Walker, is always welcome even when the latest release, Tales of the Mescal Canyon Troubadours, is wholly new…originally, this was going to be called ‘Troubadour Jams’ where Wily Bo revisits songs from his back-catalogue and to quote the man himself, “retelling them in a whole new groovalicious, roof liftin’, funkin’ and rockin’ blues style.” Tell it like it is Wily Bo!
There are new songs and the ‘revisited’ ones are very different and so I find myself treating it as all new and being rewarded for doing so as he has indeed changed them by adding surf, Latin and numerous other colours without over-egging any of them. We also get to hear from his long time (and quite brilliant) collaborators ED Brayshaw and Danny Flam plus the opportunity to get an additional ten tracks from previous albums when you buy this one – remastered, needless to say.
On the ‘main’ album, the fun starts with Drive (Mescalito Mix) and Wily conjures up the spirit of Dick Dale with superb guitar, keys, drums and a cracking bass line. The gruff vocal is on top form and the backing vocals add a lot of depth but, as always for me, it is the guitar’s tone and the only shame is there isn’t a solo.
Walk In Chinese Footsteps (Bardo Thodol Mix) has more great guitar tones and plinky piano to make for quality blues and just wait for the genius guitar solos to send shivers; the second (proper) one is stunning. By the way, Bordo Thodol is known in the West as The Tibetan Book Of The Dead…so now we know!
Jawbreaker (Surf-O-Rama) is back on the crest of a wave as this instrumental is sheer pleasure…imagine Joe Meek, The Surfaris and Hank in a (modern) recording studio together and it has all of that invention, atmosphere and a bit more. I Want To Know moves into Shaft-ish disco but, somehow, it works and any reservations were quickly dispelled by the guitar solo that manages to fuse, funk, disco and Latin into a (too) short workout.
For The Children (When The Nightmares Call) has neat acoustic guitar work with able backing from that lovely toned bass as Wily Bo creates a gravelled nursery rhyme that has political teeth too…that’s how clever he is! And he can fit in a suitably restrained, lovely guitar solo too.
Velvet Windows (The Moonshine Diaries) has banjo, steel and electric guitars and so it has to be good…and it is as this bouncy blues unfolds with a humorous tale and a couple of great electric guitar solos to make it even better.
Who’s Loving You Tonight is a slow blues tinted with jazz and soul and Wily Bo’s voice even lower than ever which suits the subject matter well. The guitar solo again fits well and has some great runs even it is way too short!
Chattahoochee Coochee Man (Southern Slide) was great but now is slightly better as a slide guitar is used on this “groovalicious” update…it actually has a touch of the Gallagher’s about the use of the bottleneck but in a vivacious southern blues song. Horns add texture as does the backing vocals but the star is, for me, the slide solo that is exquisite. Time To Forget You (Bourbon & Candlelight Mix) is the nearest to standard blues with more slinky slide and horny horns…the slide solo should have lasted an hour longer!
The final track (unless of course you bought it, then there are ten more) is a revisited Moon Over Indigo; more keys orientated, but with the same bite and a stunning guitar solo to put the cherry firmly on the dream topping.
As always, Wily Bo, delivers on every level and despite the ‘not new, but very different’ songs, it is still another great addition to my Wily collection and very welcome indeed.
Bluesdoodles rating: 4 Doodle Paws – A Wonderful bluesy but varied, accessible and well-crafted album from the main troubadour himself…grit, gravel, humourous, serious but all-round damn good collection even if you have some of the tracks already.
1. Drive (Mescalito Mix)
2. Walk In Chinese Footsteps (Bardo Thodol Mix)
3. Jawbreaker (Surf-O-Rama)
4. I Want To Know
5. For The Children (When The Nightmares Call)
6. Velvet Windows (The Moonshine Diaries) [Previously on Ain’t No Man A Good Man]
7. Who’s Loving You Tonight
8. Chattahoochee Coochee Man (Southern Slide) [Previously on Almost Transparent Blues]
9. Time To Forget You (Bourbon & Candlelight Mix)
10. Moon Over Indigo [Previously on Almost Transparent Blues]
(The iTunes run on would have been a boat load more Wily Bo, but I forced it to the next in line and enjoyed again the twin guitars and joyousness that is Wishbone Ash and the Argus album.)