A curious recording, this; the credits list eight of the disc's tracks as re-releases from what I presume was Derrick 'Big' Walker's debut, "Dream Walking." Yet to me it's the tracks listed as 'bonuses' that work the best.
Take the opener, "Dream Walking." No, it wasn't on the original release of the same name; here it's a harp-fuelled instrumental with an irresistible backbeat. "If I Had One Wish," another track seeing the light of day for the first time, continues with superior harp and showcases Derrick's fine voice, not far from Keb Mo territory.
But then we get to the tracks from the original release of "Dream Walking." "Open Book" is simply a lame tune, not helped at all by a tinny piano. "I Knew The First Time" fares much better, guest Zora Young's impassioned vocals lending authenticity to what might otherwise be an overly cluttered arrangement. "I Need My Prescription," an uptempo soul tune with driving horns, features fine, raspy-buttery vocals by Keith Done. The rest of the pre-released tracks follow suit, slow blues and boogies alternating with uptempo, urban offerings, most with contemporary lyrics that show Derrick's concerned with social issues.
The last six tracks are previously unreleased, but judging from the personnel it seems safe to assume they come from the same sessions. It also seems reasonably safe to assume the disc was cut in Europe, given the predominance of names like Henrik, Stefan, and Ole in the credits. (While they may not come with much of a recognition factor, all acquit themselves well)).
Best of the bunch is the catchy "Little Elijah Jane," seemingly steam-powered by D. Walker's harp. Close, too, is "Boogie Woogie Nighthawk," with just as much energy and a thick, raunchy sound. "Black Ice" sounds like vintage Muddy Waters with contemporary touches; the vocal resemblance is uncanny in places, making one wonder why 'Big' would feel compelled to share those duties.
"Dream Walking Part II" adds lyrics to a reprise of the opening instrumental; it's a great tune, unquestionably the disc's highlight. Things come to a close with guest Eric Bibb and D. Walker's duet, a folky-sounding "Where Shall I Be," that marries the blues to melody to good effect.
I can't begin to speculate on why some of these tracks were issued and not others; again, those appearing for the first time are easily the equal of the others. Which only serves to make this package all the more valuable.
A few minor quibbles aside, this is a fine outing.
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