Wily Bo Walker & Danny Flam
Ain’t No Man A Good Man
Mescal Canyon Records
Wily Bo Walker is a Scottish born singer/songwriter who has had success in both Europe and the U.S. He combines Rock, Americana, Blues, Gospel and R n’ B into his own hallucinogenic stew. He performs his swamp and stomp “VoodooVille” with the six piece Wily Bo Walker Acoustic Band; electric rock and blues with the five piece Wily Bo Walker Band, and with a larger ensemble including Danny Flam and The New York Brass. His previous collaborations with Flam; 2013’s “Wily Bo Walker & The Danny Flam Big Band” and 2015’s “Moon Over Indigo” were both considered for Grammy nominations. Walker also collaborates with guitarist E. D. Brayshaw; their last album was the 2-CD “The Roads We Ride” a film noir soundtrack. Over his 40-year career the prolific Walker has over two dozen recordings.
For “Ain’t No Man A Good Man” Walker, guitar, electric bass, banjo, percussion, storytelling and vocals; and Flam, trombone, trumpet, sousaphone, organ and backing vocals; are joined by thirty musicians including guitarists, keyboardists, bassists, drummers, and eight additional horn players. Backing vocalists include Li’l Neill, and The Brown Sisters of Chicago. Also featured are The Cenovia Cummins String Quartet, led by Cummins on violin. The album is produced by Walker.
Eight of the ten tracks are originals written or co-written by Walker. The album opens with the horn filled title track performed with The New York Brass. Walker soulfully sings “when you put on that black dress…there ain’t no man a good man, when you look like that tonight”, as he is accompanied by Flam’s trumpet and Mike Ross’ stinging guitar. “Fool For You” written by Stone McEwan is reprised from Walker’s 2018 album “Almost Transparent Blues”, “you know I’m a fool, a fool for your lovin’ darling”.
My favorites are the shuffle “Did I Forget”, “to tell you I love you”, featuring the baritone sax of Ron Bertolet, and the Brown Sisters; and “Velvet Windows (Treme’ Trippin’) with the lyric “I’m going straight to hell”, yet another example of the bond between Walker’s vocals and Flam’s horns. “Walking With The Devil (Blood On My Hands)” is a samba once again featuring Ross on lead guitar. The film noir “The Night of the Hunter”, co-written with Brayshaw, is culled from “The Roads We Ride”.
The ska styled “Ain’t Hungry No More” is another well written song and vocal from Walker featuring Flam on trombone and trumpet, Ross’ guitar, Bertolet’s sax, and Stevie Watts, Hammond organ; Tommy Rhodes, bass; Max Saidi, drums and Karena K, keyboards and background vocal. The narrative “Time To Forget You” is co-written by Walker, Karena K, and Jimmy Dean Brooks; as Paul Long replaces Watts on the B-3.
A revved-up interpretation of “St. James Infirmary Blues” is appropriately credited to music publisher and lyricist Irving Mills who wrote the song using the pseudonym Joe Primrose. Sometimes the song is credited to Louis Armstrong’s bandleader Don Redman. Also called “Gambler’s Blues” there are many different versions. The album closes with “Build My Gallows (Ain’t No Return)”, another version of the title track, with slide guitar from Troy Redfern as he emulates Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page; the production is completed by the addition of The Cenovia Cummins String Quartet.
Although a prolific artist, Walker is a refreshing newcomer to blues enthusiasts. We look forward to his future scheduled “VoodooVille” releases “Some People Kill For Passion” with E. D. Brayshaw; and “The Rattlin Bone Theatre Show” planned for 2021.