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June 2007

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Phillip Walker
Going Back Home
Delta Groove Records

Phillip Walker

Phillip Walker's newest record, Going Back Home, has been spending a lot of time sneaking back into my CD player lately and I finally realized what draws me most to this recording --- the incredible tone that Phillip coaxes out of his Gibson. It’s easy to see why Guitar Player magazine feels that “Phillip is one of the 10 most important blues guitarists living today.” His first release for Delta Groove Records brings all of Phillip’s abilities to the forefront and he takes a musical journey back to the music of his youth, the blues of Louisiana and the Gulf Coast area of Texas.

Phillip opens with “Lying Woman,” a song by Percy Mayfield. Turns out his woman isn’t who she says she is…”said your name was Mary Jane…but I saw you in the police line-up…the heat was calling you by another name!” A lying woman will hold you back and Phillip has designs on a much higher calling. Sharp staccato notes roll off his fret board as Phillip realizes this isn’t a woman who can be trusted.

Keyboard work by Fred Kaplan introduces the next cut, the Lowell Fulson song, “Mama Bring Your Clothes Back Home.” “Please act right, little girl, and I’ll be inclined to bring your clothes back home…well if you don’t treat me well, little girl…why in the world don’t you set me free?” Phillip’s fretwork here brings to mine that of his cousin, Gatemouth Brown, and has a clean jazzy feel to it.

This theme of bad women continues with “Mean Mean Woman.” “You’re a mean, mean woman…you won’t treat your mama right…you’re a no good woman…you go on wrecking my life.” I’m hoping Phillip finally finds one good woman, but his luck so far has not been good and there doesn’t appear to be any hope in sight. We move from women to gambling as Phillip talks to us about his affection for “Blackjack.” The tempo slows way down on this song by Ray Charles…but the story rings true. “My friends don’t come around me…cause I’ve been so blind…I can’t even borrow a nickel…and I’m about to lose my mind.” No one wants to help a gambler down on his luck and Phillip’s guitar echoes the sadness of a man who’s lost everything he has.

Rusty Zinn takes over the lead guitar duties on a new song by Randy Chortkoff, “Honey Stew.” “Roll with me baby…we’ve got to churn that pot tonight…come on baby…work with me and I’ll work with you…got to get it together….make some sweet old honey stew.” Sweet mournful notes from the harmonica of Al Blake accompany Phillip on the next cut, “Don’t Think ‘Cause You’re Pretty.” “Well because you think you’re pretty woman…you’ve got every man in town…don’t you know you ain’t doing nothing but talking your own reputation down.” Life isn’t always good for a pretty woman; she has the blues as well.

“You don’t want me baby…why don’t you leave my money alone” sings Phillip as he realizes that his woman really doesn’t love him in “Leave My Money Alone.” Rob Rio takes over the keyboards as Phillip sings about “Bad Blood,” the next cut on his record. His guitar works bleeds her pain as Phillip extols his virtue at being able to help this woman who has bad blood. “Well I say one shot from this needle and its sure going to clear your pain!”

Tempo picks back up on another Chortkoff original, “Lay You Down.” Zinn and Walker trade riffs as Phillip sings, “I’m going to lay you down woman…put you six feet in the ground…you know you won’t be found.” There’s more than one way to deal with an evil woman who’s done you wrong and this time she won’t be coming back. “If You See My Baby” tells us about a good woman this time. “Well I had a good woman….Lord I treated her wrong….woke up this morning…she has packed her bags and gone.” Tears come to Phillip’s eyes as he releases that he lost a good woman this time. “Well…I got a good thing….she just don’t feel satisfied.” It’s too bad the remorse that Phillip is feeling won’t bring back a good woman this time.

Al Blake’s harp returns on a song he wrote, “Sweet Home New Orleans.” “But I’m going back down south….to my home…sweet home…New Orleans.” Life on the road is tough and it’s always good to be back home. “Happy Man Blues” finds Phillip in a good mood for a change. “My money may seem kind of funny….and I can’t seem to get it right…if I can’t find a dollar…it might be too late…when I get the blues…I just want my money straight.” Tenor sax work by David Woodford punctuates the upbeat emotions that Phillip feels in “Happy Man Blues.”

Phillip closes with a gospel feel in “Walking with Frankie.” Jeff Turmes takes his turn on sax as Phillip sings, “I’m going to find me a woman that I can call my own…I’m walking…and walking…I’ve been looking for a woman…and she can’t be found….Lord, O’ Lord.”

Going Back Home is a satisfying trip back to his roots for Phillip Walker. Surrounded by talented players like Rusty Zinn, Jeff Turmes, Fred Kaplan, David Woodward, Rob Rio, Richard Innes, etc., Phillip has the opportunity to let loose on the songs from the era he grew up in. Throw in some new original songs that contribute to the Gulf Coast feel of his recording and this is one CD that will keep popping up in your CD player, just like it does in mine!

--- Kyle Deibler


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