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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Billy Walker

Whirlpool - Gonna Shake This Shack Tonight

Review by Gary Hill

This collection from Bear Family Records makes a good introduction to country musician Billy Walker. It really has songs that cover a pretty wide range of sounds. We get vintage bluegrass based music, rockabilly, contemporary pop, doo wop and more. Many times more than one style is present on one song. As with pretty much everything the label does, the packaging is very cool, too.

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Track by Track Review
Vocals start the song and album. The cut works out to an old school country arrangement. It has some interesting bluegrass-oriented musical features.
I'm Gonna Take My Heart Away From You
A slower, balladic tune, this is cowboy styled music. It's an effective piece. The fiddle work brings a special magic to it.   
I Can't Keep The Girls Away
A fun bluegrass tune, this lands somewhere between the two openers in terms of tempo. I like it more than either of those songs, though. 
I Need It
This tune has a bit of a rock and roll edge, but is still pretty firmly country-based. The super-low backing vocal is classic.
Love's Got A Hold On Me
Now, we're more fully into the rock and roll zone. This song makes me think of Buddy Holly to a large degree.
This has a bit of a bluesy edge along with the plenty of old school country. It's fun, but not one of the standout tunes here.
You Didn't Try And Didn't Care
Even more down-home in nature, this shuffling number works reasonably well, but isn't really my thing. I do dig the pedal-steel guitar, though.
I've Got Leavin' On My Mind
Now, with the one we land more in the rockabilly zone. This is a fun romp with cool guitar sounds and a good energy level.
A Woman Like You
I love the guitar soloing on this number. It's classic old-school rock and roll. The piano is classy, too. The whole cut really has a great rockabilly vibe. In fact, I'd consider this to be a highlight of the set.      
Mexican Joe
The piano is energetic. The cut has more of a contemporary-pop-turned-country angle to it. This is bouncy and fun.                  
Fifteen Hugs Past Midnight (Twenty Kisses 'Til One)
Here we get a playful old-time country tune with a contemporary pop edge.
Alone With You
Country and contemporary pop merge on this tune. I'm not a big fan of the over-the-top arrangement on this, but it's a solid number.
I Thought About You
I like the traditional feeling of this number. It has a country turned rock and roll vibe, but in an understated way.
Where My Baby Goes (She Goes With Me)
The rockabilly concepts are in the driver's seat on this. The whistling lends some contemporary pop texture. This is fun.
So Far
A doo-wop ballad mode is the driving factor on this number. It is very much a 1950s styled tune.
Headin' For Heartaches
More of a pure old-school country ballad, this is a cool blast of retro sound.
Changed My Mind
An energetic cut, I like the guitar work on this quite a bit.
Charlie's Shoes
More of a fun little tune, I like this one a lot. I'd consider it another highlight of the set. Then again, it is Walker's best known song.
Guess Things Happen That Way
We get more doo wop here. This works pretty well, but it's not a standout.
Willie The Weeper
An old school country concept drives this. The backing vocals are a bit over the top for my tastes.
Let's Think About Livin'
I like the energized rock and roll meets country concept behind this piece. The echoey guitar is a nice touch, too.
Little Baggy Britches
Old-time country music is at the heart of this song.
You're Gonna Pay With A Broken Heart
A down-home ballad, this has some classy pedal steel and fiddle work, but doesn't really stand out for me.
It's Doggone Tough On Me
This has a vintage country and western sound built into it. The guitar sound and rhythm section make me think of Johnny Cash.
I've Got A New Heartache
More of a contemporary pop styled piece, this still has some country in the mix. The whistling works pretty well.
Viva La Matador!
There is a Latin vibe to this cut, but you can probably gather that from the title. This has a bit of a musical theater texture. I'm not crazy about this cut, but it has its charms. I'd think that some people might find it a little offensive.
Gonna Find Me A Bluebird
Contemporary pop and jazz are the heart of this bouncy number. While this isn't Earth-shattering, it's entertaining.
A bouncy old-school pop styled tune, this is fun, but not really a standout. I dig the guitar soloing on it, though.
Throw Me Out
This has a good energy and a lot of contemporary pop music built into it. It's another energetic piece.
With a retro flavor, this leans toward crooner music. I suppose it's an old-school rock and roll ballad at its core, though. Oddly enough, this probably feels more modern than anything else here.


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