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Immediately I placed this cd on my player I was energised by Donald Byron Wheatley’s music. Fuelled by a rock solid rhythm section, piano, swirling organ, lead guitar and pedal steel guitar (BJ Cole), there is a buzz throughout. On welding slices of 1970s sounds of The Band, Bob Dylan and the rock he comes up with a tapestry enriched in the above textures and more. Maiden Voyage label boss Danny (Danny And The Champions) has members of his band, Chris Clarke (the album was recorded at his Reservoir Studios), Steve Brookes, Andy Fairclough and harmony vocalist Siobhan Parr (a recording act in her own right) all pitch in.
“Ten Dollar Jenny” has all the trappings of the aforementioned Dylan, his hero, alongside The Band and music of the era. One of Dylan's finest periods I hasten to add, but there is more to the London-born act. Making a late venture into recorded music, he more than simply combines sounds from the past as he also comes through strong with “When The Rain Comes”; a piece of writing and music Nick Lowe might have done! Warmed in Cole’s finest tones it is a most fine effort. “The Lonesome Carol Of Big Don” and “Hand Me Down Leopard Skin Hat” also owe much to Dylan. Propelled, feverishly, as much of his 1970s work was as lyrics came at a rapid pace and the songs seemed endless, and they were good too. As is the case here with Wheatley.
Mellow, with hints of John Lennon and George Harrison “Nothing” is warmed in keyboards and shuffling rhythm to gently wash over the listener. On bringing a little barroom ragtime-esque New Orleans feel to the album, “Swaley Howell” adds some well-timed versatility. “Greenwich Village Blues” likewise offers something different as he takes a trip across the pond to New York on recalling the days of a bygone era. He pulls it off superbly. The folk bards of the 1960s big folk scare would, if still around (some of course are) be duly proud of his sterling effort.
Title-track “Moondogs And Mad Dogs” closes up shop, and with it of a similar heartbeat to Dylan he once again draws from the leader as with much energy rock and folk meet. The swirling organ and pedal steel have a field day without eroding the value of Wheatley’s vocals, and here lies one of the secrets of the recording, the ever tasty production!
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