Essential Collection & Just a Little Bit More

Omar Kent Dykes’ deep, growly voice is perfect for the blues and the swamp rock that he focuses on in this two-CD compilation that collects 30 songs from 1991 to 2008. Disc 1 (sub-titled “Best of”) opens with “Magic Man,” a tribute to Bo Diddley, who, like Dykes, was born in McComb, Miss., and it’s Diddley’s famous beat that informs much of Dykes’ music. The band’s hard-charging approach hits its stride on songs like “Hard Times in the Land of Plenty” and “Girl’s Got Rhythm” from Disc 2 (“Omar’s Picks”). The swamp stuff pops up big time on numbers like “Mississippi Hoo Doo Man,” (a solid trio effort, complete with Howlin’ Wolf-like howls, that features Dykes’ very effective guitar), the ominous “Snake Oil Doctor,” and the sinuous “Snake Rhythm Rock” with killer slide guitar by Stephen Bruton. Harmonicist Gary Primich, who worked with Dykes for two years, pops up on a few tracks and Dykes is heard on Primich’s own two-CD 23-song collection that showcases the late Primich’s many talents (e.g., chromatic harp on “Caravan”, “September Song” and a stunning version of Mercy Dee Walton’s “One Room Country Shack”—with Dykes’ vocals) plus solid Chicago-style blowing on “Satellite Rock.”