After a While & Waiting for the Train

Like many soul singers, Wee Willie Walker got his start as a teenager singing in gospel groups recorded for the Goldwax and Checker labels back in the 1950s. He resurfaced a few years ago and in 2015 appeared at an Italian music fest backed—as he is on After a While—by Bay Area guitarist Anthony Paule’s Soul Orchestra. The songs range from “Romance in the Dark,” a 1940 Lil Green/Big Bill Broonzy composition, to such up-to-the-minute originals as “Second Chance” (the opening track about a man promising to reform) and the lively Latin-ish “Thanks for the Dance.” And the disc ends with “Your Good Thing Is About to End,” the 1966 Isaac Hayes/David Porter hit for Mable John. Fellow soul/bluesman Johnny Rawls has been active for more than 30 years. He co-wrote five of the 10 songs on Waiting for the Train, including the sinuous title track that finds him waiting to go back home. Set to a shake-your-bootie rhythm, “California Shake” is a double entendre earthquake ditty. Both CDs feature back-up singers and four-piece horn sections that provide a welcome punch to the songs.