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Omar Dykes

Runnin’ With The Wolf


Many years ago I was one of two guitarists in a rock/blues/soul band with horns and though we did all the usual crowd-pleasing songs like ‘Barefootin’’ and ‘Knock On Wood’ the band leader would to his credit listen to my suggestions for some less-familiar numbers to vary the setlist and keep the players interested.  I found an import album with a cartoonish cover by an obscure small-label outfit called Omar & The Howlers and we ended up doing two or three of the originals from that LP most shows. They got favourable responses and often we were approached by audience members for info on the songs they took to. So I wrote down the details many times for punters who would go off and buy the album.

We now find Omar Dykes alive and well and putting his guitar and deep-throat vocals to great use on a series of albums and the latest of these is this nod to the great Howlin’ Wolf. For Omar and for me Wolf was the most enduring blues star of them all… and a fine live performer, with an eye for The Ladies going by his show at Tolworth way back and backed by The Groundhogs no less !

Apart from one own composition, Omar has pulled together all his favourite Burnett/ Dixon cuts and then torn into them, with Derek O’Brien on guitar plus Wes Starr and Mike Buck on drums and Ronnie James on electric acoustic bass and Bruce Jones also electric bass. Ted Roddy has that Chess studios harp sound just about right.  Other musicians contribute.

From ‘Killin’ Floor’, ‘Spoonful’ and ‘Who’s Been Talkin’’ to ‘Do The Do’ and ‘Worried all the Time’, Dykes has the guitar licks and moreover the voice to do these great songs justice. Absolutely no surprises or radical arrangements though ‘Spoonful ’has a sprightly bedrock and for me ‘Back Door Man’ sound a tad too jolly ( on the Wolf tribute shows I sometimes do with my band, this is the most sinister sounding number). ‘Smokestack Lightning’ touches on Captain Beefheart in the singing though it’s true to the original Wolf 45 in tempo.  My favourite here is ‘I’m Leavin’ You’ on which everything sounds spot-on along with stops and raspy voice.

Just the guy to attempt this nod and he has the feel to pull it off

Pete Sargeant

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