Saturday, November 24, 2012

Omar and the Howlers Too Much Is Not Enough

Jimmy Reed’s music is deceptively simple to play. With its lazy rhythm, simple boogie bass and mush mouth vocals it would seem so easy to cover and interpret. However, for every Jimmy Witherspoon, with his behind the beat vocals gave a personalized uptown approach, or Swamp blues masters like Lazy Lester, Jimmy Anderson, and Slim Harpo, others (such as Etta James) might handle the songs a bit too heavily. 

This brings us to a new release by Omar and the Howlers on Big Guitar Music, Too Much Is Not Enough. This recording of Reed’s music features the late Gary Primich on harmonica for what was Primich’s last recordings. This recording was recorded prior to Omar’s collaboration with Jimmy Vaughan On the Jimmy Reed Highway. Like that album, this includes a number of special guests including guitarists Derek O’Brien, Gary Clark, Jr., as well as Jay Moeller and Ronnie James. Not having heard the Jimmy Reed Highway, I cannot vouch for the statement that this recording takes a different approach. I can attest that this is a very fine recording of Jimmy Reed songs.

Omar Dykes' hoarse, gravelly vocals would seem more appropriate for the music of Howlin’ Wolf or Captain Beefheart. Importantly, his relaxed delivery simply nails the renditions of Too Much, Honest I Do, I Ain’t Got You, and Shame, Shame, Shame. The backing stands out with Primich shining. There is one non-Reed song included, Dykes’ I Gotta Let You Go. This is a swamp blues that evokes Slim Harpo’s Tee-Nah-Nee, with Gary Clark, Jr. adding slide guitar in the backing. On two selections Clark doubles on harmonica and guitar and if not as accomplished on harmonica as Primich, still acquits himself well.

Fans of Jimmy Reed, as well as of Omar Dykes, will certainly enjoy Too Much Is Not Enough. These are wonderfully paced performances and many ‘blues players’ would do well to see how one can take familiar material and make it sound fresh and vital. This is so good that I will be checking out the Jimmy Reed Highway, and looking forward to Omar Dykes promised future releases that will center on the music of Howlin’ Wolf and Bo Diddley.

I received this from either the label or publicist.  Here is Omar performing at the CD release party for this CD.

1 comment:

Don O. said...

One of my favorite parts is the little note on the front, "Disclaimer Inside", attesting to the fact that Omar is well aware he has released a lot of Jimmy Reed covers lately. That cracked me up.