Donald Byron Wheatley
When good friends Del Day (Ark PR, Big City Lights) and Danny George Wilson (Danny & The Champions Of The World) founded their record label Mayden Voyage Recording Company, I never doubted they’d be putting out great music. And what a cracker their first two releases have become. The first one is Harry Senior Jr’s “Plates Of Meat” but we’re having a look at release #2:
Donald Byron Wheatley‘s debut album “Moondogs And Mad Dogs” is a brilliant album from start to finish. Its influences are musical legends like John Lennon & George Harrison, lots of Bob Dylan and The Band. You instantly feel familiar with the sound and songs. Sometimes you think, Donald is playing a cover song that you seem to remember but it’s all original and homemade.
The music of Donald Wheatley is easily as lively as the characters who people his songs, a natural tangle of early rock’n’roll, raucous blues, sweet folk and a most unique phrasing of Americana – countrified rock that’s as unique to Wheatley as The Band’s own Canadian take on American music, or Van Morrison’s Caledonian vision of soul. The sound is relaxed, down-home and upbeat, with a warm fireside vibe and the joyous, charismatic and intimate feel of a well-lubricated after-hours jam session. It’s funky as hell in places (the sinful, bedroom-eyed Josephine), powerful and resonant in others (the scorched When The Rain Comes). Wheatley comes off like a wild-eyed soothsayer, a little bit Dylan but also a little bit Joe Strummer, a little bit Shaun Ryder.
We are incredibly happy to welcome Donald Byron Wheatley to the Static Roots Festival 2018!
(photo credit: John Morgan)
“At a time when technical wizardry can make even the least musically talented layman a potential contender, it’s decidedly heartening to listen to an album that oozes quality from start to finish. Great songs, played by great musicians is hardly a state secret, but getting those two together is an all-too-rare occurrence. “Moondogs and Mad Dogs” has them both in abundance.”
Ken Brown, Fatea Records, UK
“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. (…) 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!”
Maurice Hope, FlyingShoes review
“On an album that’s unashamedly proud to wear its colours on its sleeve Wheatley transcends his influences coming across as a UK version of The Felice Brothers. The cracked voice, the sheer joy of the title song, the wracked and organ fuelled barnstorm of Smoking Gun are all delights but the best is on the blistering quicksilver ramshackle blues of Hand Me Down Leopard Skin Hat which, in a blind test, could easily be taken for a genuine lost Dylan song.”
Paul Kerr, Blabber’n’Smoke
Donald Byron Wheatley’s “(…) main influences are obvious but there are lesser echoes of other artists throughout this album, all coalescing into a recording that is highly original. All musicians who write their own songs have ‘borrowed,’ however inadvertently from others; it being more important that they follow their muse wherever it takes them. Donald Byron Wheatley has certainly achieved that with this brilliant debut from someone who, remarkably, lays no claim to being a ‘musician!’ I don’t think it will be long before he has to rethink that claim. To me and I’m pretty sure many others, even at this early stage, this is an album of the year contender so get yourself a copy as soon as possible!”
“A number of the music magazines we subscribe to include in their review sections ‘Rediscovered’ features, reminding us or introducing us to forgotten or little known acts that released quality music back in the day but for some reason did not reach a market or were unappreciated at the time. Listening to set me thinking that this album may feature in a similar scenario twenty years down the road as an extraordinary recording that did not get its due recognition when released. It’s an excellent album to say the least and exceptional in that the artist has never played onstage to a live audience.”
Declan Culliton, lonesomehighway.com
“Wherever his musical career takes him, then no one can take “Moondogs And Mad Dogs” away from Donald Byron Wheatley. If this is his only record then that doesn’t matter. Because first it’s a fine collection and second you can bet Big Don would be proud – and here, that was all that ever mattered. Rating 8.5/10”