Going Back Home

This is guitarist Phillip Walker’s 12th album in a career that spans five decades. Just 70, Walker—a Louisiana native who grew up in Port Arthur, Texas—cut his musical teeth in Clifton Chenier’s band before moving to L.A., where he formed a band and played locally. His first album, 1973’s The Bottom of the Top, on the Playboy label (reissued by Hightone), is one of his best. Walker’s a thoroughly modern bluesman whose relaxed singing and taut playing are well-featured here on 13 songs on which, as he remarks in the current issue of Living Blues, the producer “took the coat off me and put me back on the old stuff.” Working out on songs by Percy Mayfield, Lowell Fulson, Champion Jack Dupree, among others, Walker and the band—which includes Rusty Zinn and Rob Rio—are all on the same page. Dupree’s “Bad Blood” features Rio’s very tasty piano, while Zinn gets down on four songs, his “duels” with Walker on the fast shuffle “Lay You Down” is just one of this CD’s many highlights. The “coat” really comes off on Lightnin’ Hopkins’ “Don’t Think ’Cause You’re Pretty,” with Zinn on acoustic guitar and Al Blake on harp.