Like most music lovers, I sometimes tend to get in a rut with what I listen to. I get to a point where everything sounds the same or I feel like I've heard it all before. Ordinarily, I move between blues, jazz, soul, and gospel for the most part, mainly focusing on the blues.....but sometimes nothing really grabs you no matter what you listen to. That was me ten or twelve years ago. I was in a rut and couldn't get out of it for about six months. Nothing I found really got my attention, until I discovered the Texas Tornado, Mr. Huary Perry Wilson.
Unfortunately, he recorded for a British label, JSP, that was next to impossible for me to find in record stores around my area (of course, this was really before the internet got kicked off, so ordering online was still a novel concept, at least to me).
Wow, did that one blow me away. A more appropriate album title could not be found. This was a whirlwind from start to finish. Wilson's guitar often sounded like it was strung with barbed wire, but man could this guy find a groove and not only hang on to it, but work it to death, too. His vocals were a pleasant surprise, too.....raw, soulful, somewhat gospel-influenced. The tracks ranged from rangy Texas style roadhouse blues ("Walk That Walk") to a taste of Chicago via the Mississippi Delta("Come on Baby, Go Home With Me") to even some smooth urban jazz ("Juicin'"), and it was all outstanding. Needless to say, I was officially rut-free.
debut recording for JSP for starters. He only sang on a few tracks (soul/blues belter Alanda Williams handled the bulk of the vocals), but the guitar work was really impressive. Two tracks really stood out to me.....the irresistible "Boogie Boy" and the incredible slow blues cover of "T for Texas." He didn't sound like anyone else I was listening to at the time. The combination of these two releases really piqued my curiousity about him.....who he was, where he came from, who his influences were.
Wilson was born in Shreveport, LA, but was raised in West Dallas. His earliest influences were from gospel music he heard in church, but he learned the blues from an outstanding group of musicians that included Zuzu Bollin, Frankie Lee Sims, Cat Man Fleming, Mercy Baby, and others. He eventually settled in Fort Worth and started a band called the Boogie Chillun with drummer/vocalist Robert Ealey. While playing music at night, with Ealey and other musicians, Wilson supported his family by working as a school janitor during the day. Ealey and Wilson teamed up again on Wilson's 1998 CD, The Good The Bad The Blues, with Ealey contributing drums and vocals to the track, "Lonely Guy."
|U.P. Wilson (left) with Robert Ealey (courtesy Dallas Blues Society)|
Boogie Boy! The Texas Guitar Tornado Returns! (JSP) - Wilson's debut for JSP is a great introduction. Wilson sings on about half the tunes and soul singer Alanda Williams does the rest. Williams is a great vocalist, but his smooth singing is a jarring contrast to Wilson's.
Whirlwind (JSP) - This is Wilson's best JSP release, although all of them are worth having. It just seems that he was firing on all cylinders for this one, with some outstanding songs and his best and most diverse fret work. Start here and work your way out.
The Good The Bad The Blues (JSP) - An appropriate title.There are some nice moments on this CD, including a track with longtime cohort, Robert Ealey, but there are too many different vocalists and too many tracks that sound alike. However, the good songs are really good.