Omar Dykes

Omar Dykes
Running with The Wolf

Provogue, 2013

By Lady K
February 2014

If any bluesman on earth could do an album honoring Chester Burnett, it would have to be Omar Dykes. After all, his voice has the same down ‘n dirty blues timbre that the great Howlin’ Wolf will always be remembered for. And so, we, as blues lovers are the lucky ones. We get to hear Omar Dykes’ versions of the tunes that Howlin’ Wolf made forever famous (including cuts from the Wolf’s hero, Willie Dixon). This album is a happy blend of Howlin’ Wolf’s in-your-face blues, and Willie Dixon’s slightly more subtle rockin’ blues. How could we lose on such an endeavor? The answer is, we couldn’t lose, and we didn’t lose. Settle down (or belly-up to the bar) and enjoy . . .

Running with the Wolf isn’t ‘just’ about Omar Dykes (vocals, guitar) singing Wolf’s tunes, he brought some amazing musicians to the recording sessions: Derek O’Brien, Eve Monsees Casper Rawls (guitar); Ronnie James, Bruce Jones (acoustic/ electric bass); Ted Roddy (harmonica); Wes Starr, Mike Buck (drums, percussion); Kaz Kazanoff (tenor sax); Les Izmore (baritone sax); and Nick Connolly (organ).

While just about all the tunes were either written by Howlin’ Wolf or Willie Dixon, the title track, “Runnin’ with the Wolf,” is credited to Kent Dykes and Steve Callif. The tune is a mid-tempo blues rocker and imagines what hangin’ with the Wolf could be like, and uses as lyrics all of the titles of the Howlin’ Wolf’s tunes included on this album. It’s a nifty, innovative idea.

Everyone will recognize Howlin’ Wolf’s tunes, there are no surprises if you’re a fan of the Wolf, including the heavy rocker, “Killin’ Floor.” On “Howlin’ for My Baby,” Dykes vocalizes, while Monsees rocks the lead guitar. “Riding in the Moonlight” has always been one of Lady K’s favorite Wolf tunes, and Omar Dykes provides his insane version.

“Who’s Been Talkin’” includes organ and two saxes, and was meant for dancers who love the cha-cha – it has a hint of a little Latin tempo. The raucous rocker “Worried All the Time” also tempts listeners to get out on the dance floor. “Smokestack Lightning” is another of Lady K’s favorite Wolf tunes, and this version is down and dirty and includes Dykes own wolf howls. “I’m Leavin’ You” and the slow-tempo “Tell Me What I’ve Done” are the last of the Chester Burnett tunes.

And then, mixed among the tracks above, are Willie Dixon’s well-known tunes. The slow-tempo of “The Red Rooster” has a sexy feel, except of course, it’s about that barnyard bird. Dykes’ guitar whines and wails, and Bruce Jones on bass is amazing. “Spoonful” is chock full of seriously rockin’ blues, and the guitars will grab ya on “Ooh Baby, Hold Me.”

There’s yummy organ going on in the “Back Door Man” track, and there’s nothing subtle about “Do the Do,” and the saxes are fantastic. “Wang Dang Doodle” is the final track on this album and it’s a killer – it includes the baritone sax, the organ, and three guitars; a fitting way to close out “Runnin’ with the Wolf,” because the whole album is pretty much the epitome of “Wang Dang Doodle” - party time

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