Wily Bo Walker can be heard on Spotify.
by Wily Bo Walker
Solo Artist, Songwriter, Storyteller
“Drifting around between the stars and the moon and the sun…”
Five albums? Hmm. It’s an extremely difficult thing to pick just five influential albums from a lifetime of being immersed in music. I come from a family that loved music (both my parents were Grade 8 pianists); my father loved classical music so he would treat me to Beethoven, Bach and more, my mother loved artists like Nat King Cole and my sister would play The Beatles & the Stones. So I consider myself lucky to have all these great influences in my childhood.
Anyway, here’s my eclectic mix of just a few of the albums that have made my life so much richer.
The Dream Syndicate – ‘Medicine Show’
The Dream Syndicate came over to London on the wave of new guitar bands that excited me in the eighties. R.E.M., The Del Fuegos, The Long Ryders, Green on Red, The Bangles, The Hooters, Gun Club etc etc…‘Medicine Show’ however was a breed apart with cinematic storylines from Steve Wynn and The Dream Syndicate, and a production courtesy of Sandy Pearlman, which could drag you into each song as if it were a movie in itself. There is a style reminiscent of the great American novelist William Faulkner, Steinbeck and Tennessee Williams in the storylines and this, combined with a backdrop of a solid Doors-like rhythm section and fabulous scorching guitar from Karl Precoda, draws me back to this album time and time again.
Robbie Robertson – ‘Contact from the Underworld of Redboy’
Just one album in a career filled with many of my favourite music moments. I could have picked any from The Band through to Dylan but the lyrical composition of this album and its mix of genres combined with Robbie’s marvelous vocal and storytelling ability is totally compelling for me. Again, for me, a very cinematic album where each song takes you to a different world. Personal, political and emotive writing from one of the all-time greats.
Joni Mitchell – ‘Hejira’
Possibly the greatest lyricist we have ever known. Joni bares her soul with every song she writes, painting her world and her journeys for us all to see. There are many, many great songwriters of course but for me, Joni adds a poetry to her work that consistently amazes me, intrigues me and ultimately draws me into her world. I love the journey she makes musically across all of her albums, from coffee shop singer to jazz artist. Hejira, with its great guest musicians including the wonderful Jaco Pastorius on bass, knocked me off my feet when I first heard it. It still does.
Bruce Springsteen – ‘The River’
Another great lyricist, songwriter, and storyteller. I could have picked from hundreds of artists and songwriters from Van Morrison, Dylan, Jim Morrison, Greg Allman, Leon Russell, Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits through Rickie Lee Jones, John Martyn, Jim Carroll, Peter Case, Mark Lanegan, Greg Dulli etc etc ad infinitum that have added to the soundtrack of my life but I have added Springsteen’s ‘The River’ as a great example of the diversity his songwriting shows us. Seemingly short and simple songs conjure up a depth of meaning and circumstance and add elements that we all can identify with. Stories evocative of novels like ‘Last Exit to Brooklyn’ (and to quote Joni Mitchell “there is the hope and the hopelessness I’ve witnessed thirty years”) seem to trip off Springsteen’s songwriting palette.
Steely Dan – ‘Gaucho’
I could have picked any of their albums from ‘Can’t Buy A Thrill’ through to ‘Gaucho’ or even ‘Two Against Nature’, Fagen’s ‘Nightfly’ or ‘Sunken Condos’ – I spin them all regularly and I still get excited at the skill of the music, the productions, the ‘almost perverse’ lyrics and fine nuances in the tracks that constantly amaze me. Sheer talent! I love how they can transform a simple format and add another dimension with an added ‘mu-chord’ here and there and storylines that no-one else would dare write.
As a producer myself, Steely Dan productions have possibly been the most influential to me. As with all music in general, I admire many producers whether it is the ‘more is more’ style of Phil Spector through to the more sparse productions of people like Steve Albini. Steely Dan’s productions have a timeless quality that I love and I always come back to them for reference. ‘Gaucho’ is possibly not the most popular album in their catalog but I love the groove and accomplished songwriting within this collection.
And there you have it! I haven’t even scratched the surface of all the music I love/have loved over the years, all of it influential in some shape or form. New music and artists influence me as much as the older artists but for this, I decided to opt for some of my early influences.
Hope you enjoy…
You can find my music on all online music stores and streaming sites, iTunes, Amazon, Bandcamp, CDBaby, Spotify etc or linked from my web-site
WILY BO WALKER
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