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Willie Walker & The Butanes
Right Where I Belong

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Hailing from Memphis, former Goldwax soul legend Willie Walker started singing gospel with the Redemption Harmonizers when he was still a teenager. By the time he was 20 he's relocated to Minneapolis, but the move up the Mississippi did nothing to curtail his musical activities. Flying back to Memphis for sessions at American Studios (as well as Muscle Shoals). He released a string of stirring deep soul classics on Goldwax Records during the late '60s. Being label mates with soul royalty like O.V. Wright and James Carr was fitting for Walker because, as Right Where I Belong proves, he was talented enough to walk in their footsteps.The circumstances that led to Right Where I Belong developed over a period years as Willie gigged off and on with Minneapolis blues-cum-soul band the Butanes. The results are stunning: rarely does a record not only successfully reproduce a beloved style without sounding dated, but actually adds to the genre that has influenced it.

For Walker, it might just be like putting on an old hat, but Butanes guitarist Curt Obeda deserves accolades as well. He penned every song here, and tunes like (We Gotta) Put Out The Fire and Crying To Do are as tastefully understated as his guitar playing, while the arrangements, instrumentation, and recording resonate with a natural warmth. For his part, Walker delivers heartbreak, hope, loneliness, joy, and loss with emotion.This record is so top notch that no purist will be able to tell the difference between it and a long lost reel of Goldwax tape. Amen

Michael Hurtt - Living Blues (US)


This is it! The real deal. The goods. Several former Goldwax artists such as James Carr and Percy Milem have resurfaced in the last twenty years to make new recordings and though they each displayed some considerable merit, the results were often patchy. This time it's the turn of yet another artist in the timeless 'Southern Soul' tradition, Willie Walker. Only one of Walker's fine Goldwax recordings from 1968 actually appeared on the Memphis label, two others were leased to Chess, appearing on their Checker label.

This CD, recorded in Minneapolis, is a truly wonderful listening experience. Yes, there are a few modest nods in the direction of the new millennium, but what you will hear when (not if!) you purchase this minor masterpiece is a perfect fusion of the different strands of 'The Memphis Sound' as honed to perfection by Stax, Goldwax and Hi. Much of the credit for this lies in the truly wonderful support provided by the Butanes, led by a marvellously empathetic and inventive guitarist called Curtis Obeda. Curtis wrote, produced and arranged this entire CD with drum, horn, guitar and organ charts that easily contend with the best I’ve ever heard in (gasp) over forty years of listening to 'real' soul and R&B. You will hardly believe your ears as your own personal laser beam converts those little digital signals into music. Yes, music. Real soul music.

Steve Armitage - Blues & Rhythm magazine (UK)


I
t's the kind of album the worst nit-picker can't find one thing wrong with. Except that eventually it's over. Curt Obeda wrote everything, coming up with cold-blooded killer material -- sharp lyrics, fresh melodies and chord structures rich in dynamics. Combine this with Willie Walker and The Butanes performance, then talk about chained lightning. Trust me: if you can't feel this music from the top of your head to bottom of the toes, someone should notify your next of kin, 'cause you're already dead and just don't know it.

Dwight Hobbes - Insight (US)

The Willie Walker CD hasn't been off my deck. I didn't think I'd hear real soul music like this in 2004! Brilliant! This CD will blow everyone away. An absolute 24-carat gem.

Ray Ellis of Juke Blues (UK)

Believe me folks, this is the real thing.

Mike Elias - Chord magazine (US)

This is as good as it gets.

Heikki Suasalo - Soul Express (FIN)


I
would have been proud to release this recording.

Quinton Claunch, co-owner of Goldwax Records (US)

The year's best deep-soul album...Howard Tate, your comeback ass has just been kicked.

Dylan Hicks - Village Voice (US)


 


Right Where I Belong was voted to be one of the best 10 local CDs of 2004 by both the major daily newspaper (Minneapolis Star Tribune) and the news and arts weekly (City Pages). This is extremely gratifying as it is ALWAYS most difficult to receive recognition from your own home town...

 

From Chris Riemenschneider's best CDs of 2004...So Far
Minneapolis Star Tribune:

Walker's comeback, 40 years after recording for Memphis' cult-adored Goldwax label, neither tries too hard nor takes it too easy. The sandy-voiced soul singer smoothly lays out his Redding/Pickett-style vocals over a thick bed of groove-line horns and heart-burning original tunes, all provided by local R&B traditionalists Curt Obeda and the Butanes. Even in the most down-and-out songs, you can hear the guy's joy for singing.
http://www.startribune.com/stories/1371/4885652.html

 

 

From Dylan Hicks Feeling Minnesota - the best 10 (or 28) best local albums of 2004
City Pages:

Modern soul albums performed and recorded in the spirit of Johnson-and-Nixon-era Southern soul must struggle to overcome the funky (funky like onions, not funky like Clyde Stubblefield) aroma of preservationist moribundity. This late-in-life full-length debut does just that, and without any apparent struggle. With a raspy passion reminiscent of early '70s-period O.V. Wright, Walker glides through a set of originals by lead Butane and understated guitarist Curt Obeda, whose south Minneapolis home was transformed into makeshift Memphis-style studio for this atavistic yet lively gem.
http://www.citypages.com/databank/25/1254/article12782.asp

 

Also in the City Pages - a meet the musician section:

Willie Walker
Willie Walker has been singing sweet soul music in the Twin Cities long enough to know Slug's and Josh Hartnett's fathers. But he enjoyed an international revival this year with the reissue of his 1960s Memphis recordings, volumes one and two of The Goldwax Story (Ace Records), and the release of his first real album, Right Where I Belong (One on One Records), recorded with Curt Obeda and the Butanes.

Most memorable moment: I played Amsterdam a couple weeks ago. To have people that have been listening to my music for years, to be in their presence, and see them with tears in their eyes for certain songs, it just emotionally broke me up. It was one of the new songs from our CD, and it's all about crying. I guess everybody's got some crying to do.

Local heroes: I see Billy Holloman a lot. I get together with a bunch of guys on Thursdays to go see him at Dixie's [on Grand]. It's kind of difficult not to sit in--they won't allow me to walk out on them.
Helpful hints: I talk to young performers every opportunity I get, and I tell them all the same thing. Learn as much as you possibly can, then start over. The more you learn, the more you realize that the less you play, the better off you are. Because the people who enjoy music don't care how much you know. They like it simple.
http://www.citypages.com/databank/25/1254/article12780.asp

 

Offbeat magazine

Former Earl King backing band the Butanes, led by guitarist Curtis Obeda, has truly struck gold with his latest release Right Where I Belong. Former Goldwax and Checker recording artist Willie Walker has joined forces with the Minneapolis-based Butanes, with fantastic results. Obeda and Walker have crafted an album of smoldering, Memphis style soul that could comfortably stand alongside the classic works of artists such as Syl Johnson and O.V. Wright. The 14 songs on the CD, all Obeda originals, provide a perfect showcase for Walker's laid-back vocals, smoky and sweet as Memphis barbecue. Behind him, the band produces a dead-on authentic sound, dripping with Hammond organ, pleading horn arrangements and Obeda's impeccable fretwork.

The tunes range from sweet and easy ballads like the title track, to the sly and funky come on of the standout tune "I Understand," all of which feature strong, thoughtful lyrics, complex melodies and top-notch musicianship. Ordinarily, when a record comes out that tries so diligently to recreate a certain sound from the past; I would recommend going back to the original material it is referencing. In this case however, I would say that Obeda/Walker have significantly added to the genre they so obviously love.

Blake Thompson

 

Manifesto (UK Soul magazine)


This is the first release on Colin Dilnot's new "One On One" record label, who's motto is "Keeping Soul Alive" and certainly lives up to that statement, with this stunning CD. To those unaware of Willie's background, he cut a handful of great sides for the famed Goldwax outlet in the mid 60's, like "There Goes My Used To Be" and the previously unissued crossover fave "I Don't Want To Take A Chance", before recording the tortured deep gem "Warm To Cool To Cold" and at least 3 other tracks which were leased to Chess, then cutting a side for Eutor and Willie Mitchell's Pawn label in in the early 70's, [note:this information is incorrect but is contained in the original article] before disappearing from the recording scene.

Thanks to much perseverance by Colin, luck and much determination, Willie Walker is back, recording 14 brilliant songs so reminisent of the classic 60's Deep Soul idiom that you'd swear this was an unissued "Goldwax" album, the secret being the quality of Curt Obeda's heartfelt and true to life songs, Willie's still superb "gritty as hell" Soul drenched vocals, Colin and Curt's perfect production, and the hottest house band I've heard in years - The Butanes.

If you dig  cult  Southern Soul artists like James Carr, Otis Clay, OV Wright, or Spencer Wiggins, then this CD must top your shopping list, tracks like "Crying To Do" with it's great lazy sax, and Stax style horns, the sexual tension of "[ We Gotta ] Put Out The Flame", the great femme chorus on " Down For The Count", the pleading vocals and simmering organ on "Ain't It Funny", the uplifting "I Can Feel It" or the mournful regret of  "No Longer For Me", make this CD so essential, as the title of the album says, Willie Walker's right back where he belongs!!

 

 

click here to read the entire Insight review by Dwight Hobbes


click here to read the Minneapolis Star Tribune feature - Mr. Used to Be: Willie Walker enlists Butanes to reignite '60s stardom.

click here to read a review on the internet site Blues Bytes.


click here to read a review on the English internet site Life & Soul Promotions.


click here to read the entire review from the English Blues & Rhythm magazine.

 

Here are a few short reviews from various on-line sources:

From England:
this is real deal, southern soul of the highest order
http://www.crazybeat.co.uk/Willie-Walker-and-the-Butanes.htm

Blisteringly good deep soul with a real band 'n'horns'n'stuff. RECOMMENDED.
www.expansion-mc.com/shop.cgi/browse

Superior new Southern Soul with real instruments & reminiscent of the great Stax/Hi albums of the late 60's/ 70's with great horns. This is 'from the gut' stuff, with good songs: 'Change' & 'Give As Good As You Get'. Refreshingly different yet familiar.
http://www.soulbrother.com/junenews.htm

From Japan:
well done Willie! well done The Butanes! and well done Colin (producer)! this reminds me of the golden days of "deep soul", one of the very best newly recording "southern soul" album!
http://www.soul-treasures.com/soulclinic/soulclinicframelist2002nov.htm

From France:
Cet album est vraiment merveilleux, peut-être la meilleure sortie soul de l'année !!! Achetez-le !!!
Florent Mazzoleni of Soul Bag on the Yahoo group: the_dark_end_of_the_street
Translation:
This album is really wonderful, maybe the best soul release of this year !!! Buy it !!!

 

This review appeared in Soulbag (FR). The CD was given it's highest honor "le pied" or 5 stars.

Here is a VERY BAD internet translation to English:

Willie Walker & The Butanes *****
Right Where I Belong (ONE ONE ONE)
www.oneononerecords.co.uk
It is not very probable that such a good disc of soul in 2004 appears. By soul, one understands here a work of traditional, organic invoice with wish, played by truths musicians under the conditions of recording of the middle of the years 1960. It is in Minneapolis that this masterly album was recorded, where one finds Hammond organ, ch?urs and coppers with old. This singer of deep soul veteran recorded a handle of pieces for the legendary Goldwax label, in full golden age with the music soul of Memphis, like for Checker, with the row of which immortal There Goes My Used To Be and You' ve Named It, I' ve Had It. Willie Walker never had the recognition, if as well as James Carr or OV Wright has is recognized by general public, reserved to other singers soul. Under the aegis of impassioned Dilnot Hake and Curtis Obeda, the guitarist leader of Butanes, this disc could be born, not without many adventures. Grace their is returned, with the listening of these fourteen pure gold nuggets which are a true miracle, to the image of the piece titrates, Right Where I Belong, quite simply imperial, which revives the most beautiful hours of the soul Sixties. The absolute class!

Florent Mazzoleni

 

Here is the review in it's original language:

Willie Walker & The Butanes *****
Right Where I Belong
(ONE ON ONE)www.oneononerecords.co.uk
Il est peu probable que paraisse un aussi bon disque de soul en 2004. Par soul, on entend ici un ouvrage de facture classique, organique à souhait, joué par de vrais musiciens dans les conditions
d'enregistrement du milieu des années 1960. C'est à Minneapolis qu'a été enregistré cet album magistral, où l'on retrouve orgue Hammond, ch|urs et cuivres à l'ancienne. Ce chanteur de deep soul vétéran a enregistré une poignée de morceaux pour le légendaire label Goldwax, en plein âge d'or de la musique soul de Memphis, ainsi que pour Checker, au rang desquels les immortels There Goes My Used To Be et You've Named It, I've Had It . Willie Walker n'a jamais eu la reconnaissance, si tant est que James Carr ou OV Wright aient été reconnus par le grand public, réservée à d'autres chanteurs soul.
Sous l'égide du passionné Colin Dilnot et de Curtis Obeda, le guitariste leader des Butanes, ce disque a pu voir le jour, non sans de nombreuses péripéties. Grâce leur soit rendue, à l'écoute de ces quatorze pépites d'or pur qui sont un véritable miracle, à l'image du morceau titre, Right Where I Belong, tout simplement impérial, qui ravive les plus belles heures de la soul Sixties. La classe absolue !

Florent Mazzoleni

 

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