Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Howlin' Wilf the Vee-Jays Ya Ya|
Genres: Music Video & Concerts
In 1986 Hunter formed his first Rhythm & Blues band The Veejays taking on the pseudonym Howlin' Wilf. They were soon the heppest cats in Camden Town - popular enough to give up their day jobs and go pro. Within a year Howl... more »
Retro blues/soul/rock/R&B will leave you "howlin'" for more!
Veggiechiliqueen | 04/08/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Howlin' Wilf, better known as James Hunter, is a prime example of England's top-notch tradition of blue-eyed soul; on this stellar concert DVD from 1987, Howlin' Wilf and the Vee-Jays (with Dot on guitar, Stilts McGregor on drums, and T-Box Tone on string bass) rip up the stage on a short but sweet set showcasing James's flair for retro rhythm and blues, soul, and early rock. Many of the songs appear on the band's major release Cry Wilf!, with several other prime additions such as Big Joe Williams' Baby Please Don't Go.
James is totally in control, performing some excellent blues harp (which is largely absent on his more recent releases such as Kick it Around and People Gonna Talk). He and Dot (who later went on to join the short-lived Shout Sister Shout) also engage in some high-energy guitar duels on the encore Boogie. T-Box does an awesome turn on the string bass, making me wonder once again why it's such an underutilized (and underappreciated) instrument in modern music (with the exception of jazz). Hunter seems to be perfectly at home on stage, and he goes as far as smoking cigarettes during songs and between sets (that might explain his vocal quality, but let's see THAT happen in modern concert halls!).
Hunter displays a lot of energy on stage, dancing around with his guitar and jamming during harp solos. As with his CD Cry Wilf!, this is a more guttural, less polished sound that has more in common with early bluesmen such as Muddy Waters than on James's more recent releases, which featured a polished, slicked-back Sam Cooke production. James is displaying his grittier side, and it works in a way that's missing from People Gonna Talk, bringing the songs some urgency. The only miss is his cover of God Bless the Child, which isn't flattering at all to his raspy delivery.
The video quality is poor (apparently transferred from videotape), and the sound is decent. Don't expect any flashy extras; this looks (and sounds) like a low-budget release from the UK (I found the root menu still of James to be grainy and particularly unflattering). But as a historic document of James's early talent for assimilating R&B, soul, rock, and blues from the 1950s-1960s and giving it a fresh, modern twist, it's priceless and well worth at least one viewing for fans of Hunter's more recent work.
* Got A Thing For You
* Got My Eyes On You
* Ya Ya
* I Know You Don't Love Me
* 21 Days In Jail
* Mellow Down Easy
* God Bless The Child
* Baby Please Don't Go