Guitarist/songwriter Wayne Baker Brooks is the younger of the two guitar playing sons of bluesman Lonnie Brooks. While Lonnie's elder son, Ronnie Baker Brooks has performed as a solo artist for some time after serving his "apprenticeship" as a member of Lonnie's band, Wayne has only recently stepped out on his own to test the waters of a solo career. With a live performance for the former First Lady and now U. S. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton under his belt and a life that has included an appearance as an extra in Blues Brothers 2000 (check out the scene at Willie's Strip Club) and as a co-author of the blues reference guide, Blues for Dummies, Wayne has certainly lived a full and varied life in a rather short period of time.
With his solo career now underway, it only makes sense that Wayne Baker Brooks have a solo recording to help him get started. At a recent live appearance, I was able to pick up a copy of Wayne Baker Brooks debut release, Mystery, which will be officially released in August (although you can pick up copies on Wayne's website at www.waynebakerbrooks.com). In spite of Wayne's warning that the recording was probably more rock-oriented than blues, upon actually listening to Mystery, I found the recording to contain a nice mix of styles including rock, Texas and Chicago blues, along with a bit of funk and soul. Many times sounding more like his father than his older brother, Wayne seems to be well on his way to establishing his own style with music that is very listenable. Wayne had a hand in the writing and arrangement of all thirteen songs on the CD, which also includes a guest appearance by Lonnie Brooks and rhythm guitar by Ronnie Baker Brooks on all but one song ("Just Like A Butterfly").
Mystery opens with the CD's title track, co-written by Wayne with Bruce McCabe and Jeff Jacobs. The song has a drum driven sound and offers the first glimpse at Wayne Baker Brook's prowess as a solo guitarist with some hot licks filling out the sound. Other highlights on the recording include the soulful sound of "Exiled" which offers some nice slide guitar by guest player, Jon Spiegel (Jon also appears on the following number, "Ain't That Loving You") and the funky cool of "She's Dangerous" with Wayne's burning guitar taking the forefront at the break. "Nu Kinda Blues" is an interesting song that offers numerous elements of the funked out hypno-blues performed by R. L. Burnside in his collaborations with the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. The inclusion of the DJ and the reoccurring harmonica-based reprise definitely gives the song an electrified Mississippi Hill Country sound. Careful listeners might also pick up a notable ZZ Top riff in the song.
At the halfway point of Mystery, Lonnie Brooks makes a guest appearance in support of Wayne on "It Don't Work Like That." This is one of the more bluesy tracks on the CD and includes trade offs on lead solos between Wayne and Lonnie and a vocal chorus performed by Wayne, Lonnie and Ronnie Baker Brooks. Throughout the song Lonnie and Wayne trade riffs and comments that make the song particularly entertaining. The following number, "Your Turn (To Talk To The Blues)" is an excellent horn-heavy number, with an interesting rhythm and lots of hard-hitting guitar by Wayne.
As Mystery moves towards its conclusion, the song choices continue to exhibit a variety of feelings and styles. "Sooner or Later" is probably one of the harder-edged songs on the CD with a driving riff and tough sounding lead guitar by Wayne. "You Make It Easy Baby" is a high powered, up tempo workout including more flaming guitar and intricate rhythms. "Just Like A Butterfly" is an interesting number, appearing to be the most instrumentally stripped down song on the CD. The song has a nice tune and some image-filled lyrics about a woman flitting quickly from lover to lover, leaving each wanting more. The CD closes out with "Root Of My Soul", leaving listeners on a more rock-oriented, but definitely a strong note regarding the talents Wayne Baker Brooks.
Mystery, the debut solo release by Wayne Baker Brooks definitely has my recommendation for anyone who likes their blues with a harder edge. Brook's guitar is every bit as strong as his father and older brother and the music has a feeling that Wayne can hopefully continue to develop into his own signature style. Check it out, I think you will like it.
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