|Roger Hurricane Wilson – Exodus
Blue Storm Records
Hurricane Wilson is a guitarist and singer who use’s his eighth release as a tribute to the musicians who have influenced him over the years. The eleven covers and four originals show that Wilson utilizes a broad musical palette. He gets expert backing from Mark “Rockette Morton” Boston on bass and Michael Traylor on drums. Together they served as the rhythm section of Captain Beefheart’s original Magic Band. Traylor also produced the recording.
Opening with “Honey Hush”, Wilson puts his powerful, deep voice to good use, punctuated by stinging guitar licks that evoke the style of Albert Collins. Two tracks are devoted to paying homage to Roy Buchanan, an old friend of Wilson. The instrumental “After Hours” is an outstanding showcase for Hurricane’s impressive skills on guitar. Merle Haggard’s “Lonesome Fugitive” adopts an easy-going pace with Wilson adding a faithful note-for-note rendering of Buchanan’s original solo. Two brief instrumentals – “Buckaroo” and “Last Date” – highlight Wilson’s country music roots filtered through Buck Owens and Floyd Cramer. The title track runs the movie theme through a surf guitar rendition that is another highlight of the disc.
One of Wilson’s originals is the six minute “Tribute to Danny”, providing Hurricane with plenty of space to fashion a memorial to another master of the Telecaster, the late Danny Gatton. Wilson states a convincing argument for his spot in the Blues world with “One More White Boy Singing the Blues”. His lyrics mix sly humor and heartfelt emotions for a very honest assessment of his career. His attempt at a rave-up on “Full Speed Ahead” is less effective as his vocal never captures the intensity of the best gospel singers. “You Do Your Job” is a medium tempo groover with Wilson politely asking to be left alone to play the guitar his way. He lays down a biting guitar solo to drive home the point.
Wilson gets mixed results on his cover versions of classics like “Slip Away”, which features a mellow vocal from the leader. His version of John Hiatt’s “Slow Turning” doesn’t offer anything new. Wilson’s take on Beefheart’s “Sure ‘Nuff N Yes I Do” is good enough to convince listeners to check out van Vliet’s original. “Hurricane” is doomsday ballad with Wilson’s slide guitar creating a mournful backdrop to the tale of impending doom in New Orleans. But the song was first released in 1981, an ominous warning of the horror to come.
A long guitar intro sets the mood on the closing track, “Rainy Night in Georgia”. The classic tune should have been a great fit for Wilson’s voice but his effort falls well short of better-known versions. But once Wilson steps back from the microphone, he lets his guitar do the talking and for over eleven minutes he weaves a masterful interpretation that reminds you of the Allman Brothers Band in full flight. This track by itself makes the disc worth a listen. But there are plenty of other treats as well. Wilson definitely captured my attention with this solid effort that is definitely worth a listen.
Reviewer Mark Thompson is president of the Crossroads Blues Society in Rockford. IL