Though you'll find his albums filed under "Blues" at CD stores, New Orleans-bred singer and guitarist Walter "Wolfman" Washington has a lot more in common with James Brown than Charles Brown. Which is why you can take the title of this recording at face value. With plenty from his seasoned, horn-powered band, the Roadmasters, Washington brings in the funk all right -- and not a little soul power, too.
In fact, two of the album's real treats -- "I Stand Accused" and "Mary Ann" -- find Washington soulfully emulating the vocal styles of Jerry Butler and Ray Charles, and then punctuating the latter tune with some typically concise and tasteful guitar work. More in keeping with the album's fundamental tone, though, are a pair of aptly titled instrumentals -- "Funkyard" and "Wolf Funk" -- and, of course, the album's title tune, a ceaseless party chant powered by funk guitar chords, drummer Wilbert Arnold's sly syncopations and saxophonist Larry Carter's keening alto. Before he turns to such secular concerns, though, Washington taps into the fervor and message of gospel music on the album's opening track, "Trials and Tribulations."
When Washington and company aren't busy breaking a sweat, the leader revisits southern soul music on his own terms, with his yearning lament "Please Come Back to Me," and performs one of his best songs, "The Answer Is Clear," a ballad inspired by a lover's blunt and final wake up call.
Appearing Friday at Paddy Mac's. To hear a free Sound Bite from Walter "Wolfman" Washington, call Post-Haste at 202/334-9000 and press 8129. (Prince William residents, call 690-4110.)