Wily Bo Walker

2021

Joe Bonamassa ROYAL TEA.jpg

I must admit that, until I checked him out while investigating who E D Brayshaw was associated with, while reviewing his excellent solo album here at the end of last year, I hadn’t come across Wily Bo Walker before, which is a shame as I’ve clearly been missing out. It doesn’t seem that long ago that London used to be awash with Tex-Mex influenced bands, none of whose names I can recall off the top of my head, apart from the fab Bobby Valentio fronted Los Pisteleros. Of course, the ol’ memory plays its usual tricks and the orange faced pumpkin brained Donald Chump was only on his first bimbo wife at the time.

So, it was a case of feeling nostalgic sentiments, mixed with an immediate desire to start serenading an imaginary senorita around the room, when the opening number, ‘Drive (Mescalito Mix)’, came bursting out of the speakers with a melodic guitar line played down the fat end of the neck with all the freshness of a newly squeezed lime, sounding like Duane Eddy after a night on the tequila. The growling vocals of Wily Bo sound like he’d been up all night introducing manbos at a voodoo ceremony, prior to strolling down to the recording studio. His rough edges perfectly complemented by the sweet outpourings of a covey of splendid female backing vocalists.

The exotically titled ‘Walk in Chinese Footsteps (Bardo Thodol Mix)’, co-written with the aforementioned Mr. Brayshaw, is introduced by some tinkling piano (I’m imagining a video featuring some gap toothed and bearded gent in a waistcoat and top hat on keys for this), before a groovy guitar riff gets going and EDB fills in all the gaps with some sinuously stinging guitar. ‘Jawbreaker (Surf-O-Rama)’ is a fun instrumental packed with great guitar lines; it starts with the sound of the Ventures surfing on the shores of a Mexican coastal town during fiesta time, before a Dick Dale soundalike catches a big wave and blows the groms away with some raucous playing.

‘I Want to Know’ has a sophisticated jazzy, Latin groove, propelled by those excellent backing vocalists. ‘For the Children (When the Nightmares Call)’ is the second number co-written with EDB and features some gorgeous playing by that estimable gent. ‘Velvet Windows’ has a delightful rollicking feel with acoustic and electric guitars playing a sort of up-tempo hillbilly beat. ‘Who’s Loving You Tonight’ is introduced by some oh so smooth horns (not surprising given that the song was co-written by leader of the New York Brass ensemble, Danny Flam) and is a much better than average take on the age-old subject of male jealousy.

You can get a pretty good idea of the general quality of an album from the amount of effort that has gone into the artwork. Here, the Mexican Day of the Dead theme works a treat and, as well as being artistically pleasing, prepares the would be listener perfectly for the spicy flavours offered up on this very satisfying offering, which is both an interesting concept as well as being musically sumptuous.

Simon Green