Album Reviews

Music You Don't Know You Like Yet

OMAR KENT DYKES WITH JIMMIE VAUGHAN

ON THE JIMMY REED HIGHWAY

2007-09-07

After numerous discs with his long time band The Howlers, Omar Kent Dykes decided to take a side trip and pay homage to fellow Mississippi native, Jimmy Reed. Like all good highway trips, Dykes picked up friends along the way so that the travel ended up being more important than the destination as the fellow travelers reveled in the shared experience. In this case Dyke’s front seat passengers included the likes of Jimmie Vaughan, Kim Wilson, Lou Ann Barton, James Cotton, Delbert McClinton, Derek O’Brien and Gary Primich. Filling up the back seat and keeping things in order are Ronnie James, Wes Starr, George Rains and Dyke’s son, Jake Dykes. And the trip? Well, as advertised, it’s all about the simple, yet biting blues crafted by Jimmy Reed and his life long guitar foil, Eddie Taylor. While some of Reed’s classics are here such as "Big Boss Man", "Baby What You Want Me to Do" and "Bright Lights, Big City" this isn’t simply a re-cast greatest hits collection as the highway detours around such obvious stops as "Honest I Do", "You Don’t Have to Go", "Going to New York" and "Ain’t That Lovin’ You Baby". That’s a good thing as it allows one to linger over the lesser known tracks like "Aw Shucks, Hush Your Mouth" or "Hush Hush" rather than simply nodding along to yet another version of songs heard a million times. Since the Jimmy Reed highway has been traveled in one form or another by anyone calling himself or herself a blues musician the question is whether this trip is different enough to merit your attention. One listen and you’ll not only answer “yes” but will likely get caught up in the fun. From Lou Ann Barton’s soft mimicking of Reed’s wife Mary’s practice of whispering the lyrics into his ears while he was recording his vocals to Jimmie Vaughan’s elegantly underplayed guitar leads this disc pulls out the essence of Reed’s music while never stooping to note for note duplication. Highlights include Barton’s honeyed drawl on "Good Lover", James Cotton’s piercing, lonesome harmonica on the low down and dirty "Caress Me Baby", Vaughan’s deft picking as a counter-point to Dyke’s gruff growl on "Bad Boy", Gary Primich’s harmonica wrapping all around the vocals on "Baby What’s Wrong" and Dyke’s own "You Made Me Laugh" which uses the classic Jimmy Reed sound to accompany his heartfelt tribute to his wife Lyn who sadly passed away in 2004. While this trip may feel familiar it has the possibility of taking you to places you haven’t been in a while. Road Trip!! Smitty

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Compiled by the WYCE Journalism Club

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