Thursday, November 26, 2009

Omar And The HOWLERS - Swingland 1999

Omar And The HOWLERS - Swingland 1999


If you've never heard Omar & the Howlers and had to judge them by a glance at the Swingland CD, you might think they were just another curious band jumping on the swing-jump-blues bandwagon. Not so. Singer Omar Dykes has been a proponent of jump since carving out a niche for himself in Austin back in the mid-'70s. Through heady times (like having a 1986 recording contract with Columbia/CBS Records in pocket) and lean ones, Dykes has kept going as a generally dependable source of Texas blues, blues rock, Delta-flavored R&B, and what have you. Always sounding like a cross between Wolfman Jack and a blood relation of Howlin' Wolf, he acts out the lyrics to the dozen cover songs here with typical fervor as his band and various guests alertly supply the swing or shuffle rhythms and solos. Not writing his own tunes, though, puts the onus on Dykes to find material appropriate for his deep-from-the-gut, big voice that isn't threadbare or stale or too closely identified with someone else. Well, Dykes falls flat on his keister, even as he brings plenty of enthusiasm to Albert Collins's "Don't Lose Your Cool," Ray Charles and Percy Mayfield's "Hit the Road, Jack," and Mercy Dee Walton and Mose Allison's "One Room Country Shack." What's the point, really, of reviving well-known classics and other historical items--nearly all recognizable to seasoned blues and R&B fans--when it's well-nigh impossible to improve on them, no matter if some do sport new arrangements. Dykes's fearsome voice and the solid playing by tenor man Fathead Newman, guitarist Derek O'Brien, and drummer George Rains and the others simply can't compensate for the void at the center of this project.
By Frank-John Hadley.
01. Mr. Blues is coming
02. Ain't ThatJust like a woman
03. Hit the road Jack
04. Yellow coat
05. Don't lose your cool
06. Work song
07. So mean to me
08. Going up to the Country
09. That's Your Daddy Yaddy Yo
10. Quiet whisky
11. One room country shack
12. Alligator wine

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