Sunday, March 18, 2012

Omar & The Howlers -- "Essential Collection"

Omar & The Howlers have been around Austin, Texas since the late 1970's, which makes it about time for a collection like this. This is a twin-disc package, comprised of one cd titled "The Best Of," while the second cd is called "Omar's Picks," which are songs that "represent a snapshot of influences and heroes throughout my career and are special to me for one reason or another," says Omar.

This set will catch up the new fans to the good-time feel-good blues that Omar & the Howlers have laid down for these past 30+ years, and it will make the long-time fans happy too. These two discs display in full measure the talent and passion and hard work of Omar Kent Dykes. He is a fine vocalist, a good guitarist, an underrated harmonica player and a really good songwriter.

Looking at it song-by-song would be an impossible task, but highlights on the Best Of cd include four songs from 1991's "Live at Paradiso," a wonderful early set I've been looking for in used record stores for 25 years, two songs from Omar's debut "Blues Bag" from 1991, the title track from 1994's "Muddy Springs Road," featuring Gary Primich on harmonica and Nick Connolly on keyboards. The sound of that incarnation of The Howlers is probably my all-time favorite. The Best Of disc also includes two songs from 2007's "On The Jimmy Reed Highway" with Jimmy Vaughan and Lou Ann Barton. Highlights on the Omar's Picks cd include two songs from 1994's "Courts of Lulu," two songs from the underrated "Southern Style" from 1996, and another song from "Muddy Springs Road," a terrific take on the Leiber/Stoller "Alligator Wine" with Kaz Kazanoff on sax, Nick Connolly on organ and Derek O'Brien on guitar, and a really nice 2008 cover of Willie Dixon's "Built For Comfort" with Magic Slim on guitar.

This is a top-notch collection, well worth your blues buying dollars. Highly recommended.

You can buy this set at

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