Album Review

Jamie Oldaker - Mad Dogs & Okies

Jamie Oldaker - Mad Dogs & Okies

More than 30 years after Joe Cocker, Leon Russell, and the Mad Dogs & Englishmen revue redefined live tours, Jamie Oldaker, the Tulsa drummer who started out with Russell, has reworked the concept into an all-star album that once again reaches across the ocean to strike a chord that is bluesy, countrified and rocked out all at once.

Building on a foundation of players from Tulsa, perhaps the most underrated music scene in the States, Oldaker brings in a stellar albeit disparate cast to shine out front, including local hero J.J. Cale, Eric Clapton (Oldaker drummed for Clapton for fourteen years), Okie native Vince Gill, Baja Oklahoma natives Willie Nelson and Willis Alan Ramsey, Tony Joe White, Peter Frampton (with whom Oldaker toured and recorded), Taj Mahal, and Asleep At The Wheel's Ray Benson, along with less-well-known Okies such as Marcy Levy, who sings backing vocals on "Promises" as she did on Clapton's original version.

The end result are songs that hit the T-Town note. Clapton's moon-eyed vocals on "Positively" say all that needs to be said about the guitarist's post-Cream shift to a laid-back style. Cale's even more laid-back on "Daylight", and Tony Joe White's sultry cover of Cale's "Magnolia" is even more laid-back than that. Frampton raves up the Jerry Lynn Williams composition "Sending Me Angels" surprisingly well. And the almost forgotten charm of Willis Alan Ramsey on "Sympathy For The Train", a pensive musing that's all slide and earthy vocals, serves notice he hasn't gone away.

The only dog here is the one on the CD cover. All's that missing is Leon Russell, who evidently is still ticked off at Oldaker for quitting him for Clapton all those years ago. As it is, his "A Song For You" is ably covered by Tulsan duo Joe & Ellen. Given what he's put together here, Oldaker made the right decision in casting his lot with the guitar man. Oklahoma never sounded so good.