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Wee Willie Walker & The Anthony Paule Soul Orchestra | After a While

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After a While

by Wee Willie Walker & The Anthony Paule Soul Orchestra

Classic soul music with a seven piece horn band and soulful singer.
Genre: Blues: Soul-Blues
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Second Chance
4:26 $0.99
2. After a While
5:34 $0.99
3. I Don't Want to Take a Chance
3:51 $0.99
4. Romance in the Dark
4:24 $0.99
5. Hate Take a Holiday
4:24 $0.99
6. Thanks for the Dance
4:55 $0.99
7. If Only
4:09 $0.99
8. Cannot Be Denied
7:04 $0.99
9. Look What You've Done to Me
3:45 $0.99
10. I Don't Want to Know
3:08 $0.99
11. The Willie Walk
4:07 $0.99
12. Lovey Dovey
2:45 $0.99
13. Your Good Thing (Is About to End)
5:52 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
AFTER A WHILE, by Wee Willie Walker and The Anthony Paule Soul Orchestra, is an album of great music, plain and simple. Great music. This is a stand alone CD, no comparisons, no peers. If comparisons must be made, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, and Otis Redding might come to mind. The eight originals are fresh as are the five covers. AFTER A WHILE debuts Wee Willie Walker’s talents as a co-writer, and co-producer. The honest collaboration between Walker and Paule gives listeners a musical feast for the heart and soul.

“…Anyone missing the golden years of Soul can stop pining and go check out Wee Willie Walker who still has it all Right Now. He’s keeping the Soul flame burning bright and
effortlessly killing it on, AFTER A WHILE. Congrats to all involved.”
— Mike Kappus, Rosebud Agency

“…The re-emergence of soul singer supreme Wee Willie Walker has been one of the most welcome musical developments of the past several years, as he tours internationally, makes sterling additions to his catalog, and racks up well-deserved raves and honors. With AFTER A WHILE, his discography has reached a new peak. Anthony Paule provides his usual spot-on, savvy and impeccable guitar playing and bandleading, as his talent-rich Soul Orchestra combines with thoughtful, substantial songwriting, much of it by Christine Vitale, to craft as sympathetic a frame as a vocalist could dream about. Willie brings all of his passion, power and depth to bear. It all adds up to what is very much a collaboration, one which should bring copious joy to listeners and wind up on many blues and soul awards lists…”
— Richard Shurman, Music Journalist & Record Producer

Sometime in 1968, Willie Walker, sometimes known as Wee Willie Walker, recorded his final tracks for Goldwax Records. Goldwax was once the home of one of the premier Soul singers of all, James Carr, as well as Spencer Wiggins, Louis Williams and the Ovations and a host of others. To the best of my knowledge, Mr. Walker had laid down nine sides for the Memphis based company. That's an odd number, which makes me want to believe there's at least one more side out there.
Throughout the time he recorded in Memphis, he lived in Minnesota, and still does. The circumstances surrounding it all are rather unique but not sensational; as many others‚ life stories would be. The most spectacular part of it all was his voice. That was Willie's vehicle that took him everywhere, from churches to Jewish Community Centers, from Sam Phillips‚ Studio to Rick Hall's Fame Studio, and from Memphis to Minneapolis and back to Memphis.
Willie spoke of travelling in a Cadillac in the mid-to-late 1950's with a Gospel group called the Redemption Harmonizers. (One incarnation of the Harmonizers included, Roosevelt Jamison, the author of the Soul standard "That's How Strong My Love Is" and also a song Willie recorded, "There Goes My Used To Be," which is now available on The Goldwax Story Volume 1. Kent 203) An early photo of Willie with the group shows him then as a 15 year-old in the matching suit flair of Gospel performers with a pencil-drawn moustache. The fake moustache was the only dishonesty I could find about the man and it's that honesty that distinguishes Willie's brand of Soul.
Even when I asked him his age, he clarified the slightest discrepancy. He said he was born in Hernando, Mississippi in 1941, even though he wasn't really from there. He arrived while his mother was visiting her mother on December 21st. What he later found out when relocating to Minnesota and gathering his birth records, the state had his birth date listed as December 23rd, which was probably the date it was filed. Willie said, "It's the 21st though. I always believe my mother."
Willie relocated from Memphis to Minneapolis in 1960. The Redemption Harmonizers‚ tour had brought him this far North a couple of times and he told his band mates that upon their next visit to Minneapolis, he was going to stay there. A fellow Harmonizer who had family in Minneapolis defected with Willie at that time and since then Willie Walker has lived in Minnesota. His Minnesota connection was a member of another Gospel group, the Royal Jubileers and Willie found a home amongst them.
He first ventured into secular music when he met a man named Timothy Eason in a laundry mat. Tim said Willie looked like a guy who could sing and introduced him to his business partner, Jimmy Crittenden. Tim was also a friend of Dick Shapiro who was starting Central Booking. The band, the Val-Dons formed in a merger of Willie and some of his vocalist friends along with a group of musicians headed by local legend Willie Murphy. They were once described as "Little Richard meets the El Dorado's." Dick Shapiro had them booked into Jewish Community Centers all around the Twin Cities.
Willie did have some bouts with being homesick. He stated that his decision to live here was based on a summertime impression. He said it was pride that kept him here. He didn‚t want to hear the "I told you so's" from his old runnin' buddies back in Memphis. Pride did not stop him from visiting though. It was on a trip back to Memphis in 1965 that Willie recorded his first track for Goldwax.
Willie said, "recording in Memphis was like getting a job. It was all about who you knew on the inside." And the Goldwax roster was laden with musicians rooted in Gospel, just like Willie. He signed a contract with the label owners; Quinton Claunch and Doc Russell where the fruits of his labor were rewarded with some free airline accommodations between Minneapolis and Memphis. There were no hotel accommodations included in the package. Willie used to stay with his old friends, usually Roosevelt Jamison or George Jackson.
George Jackson was a prolific songwriter, lending his talents to such hits as Johnnie Taylor's "Who's Makin' Love," Clarence Carter's "Too Weak To Fight" and even Bob Seger's "Old Time Rock & Roll." But Willie said George wasn't getting his proper respect at Goldwax, claiming Claunch was squeezing

Jackson. Walker claimed that Jackson sometimes would put up the money for studio time. Willie said, "You see, the people needed money. That's what it was about. People would sell songs to people like Quinton Claunch for $35.00."
Hence that's how Quinton got his songwriting credits. Willie added, "Sometime, I'd go into the studio and Quinton would hand me a poem on a piece of paper. I'd start singin' it, making it up (the melody) in my head and the band would put in the changes. On the record it said the song was written by him."

If you haven't guessed by now, Willie never saw a royalty check from Goldwax. Goldwax did supply him with boxes of 45's when he returned to Minneapolis. Willie would then distribute them to the local record shop selling Soul music. But instead of sending Willie more singles to sell, when the music stores ran out of them, they ordered them from Goldwax, cutting out the middle-man, in this case, the artist himself.
It was quite the grass roots approach in music distribution considering Goldwax had a deal with Amy / Mala / Bell Records for distribution too. Also, Goldwax leased two singles to Checker Records. Checker, a subsidiary of Chess, a label synonymous with Chicago Blues was making a foray into southern soul, working with the musicians around Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Checker had released albums recorded by Etta James, Irma Thomas and other Soul singers backed by the Rick Hall's funky conglomerate at Fame Studios.
Willie's single "A Lucky Loser" b/w "Warm To Cool To Cold" (Checker 1211, 1968) did get some attention from noted Nashville Disc Jockey and hit maker, John Richbourg, a.k.a. John R. As the story goes, Willie got a call at his home from John R. and he asked Willie to introduce his new single on WLAC in Nashville. Willie thought it was a prank so when it came time to introduce the number, Willie said in reference to the moment, "I just started cussin' and click went the phone."
Another brush with the big time came when Willie was performing with a group called the Exciters (not the Exciters of "Tell Him" notoriety.) Through a connection Willie and his music were introduced to Curtis Mayfield. Mayfield wanted Walker to join the "Mayfield Family" but Willie was still under contract with Goldwax. When hearing that Mayfield was interested in Walker, Claunch set the buyout price of Walker's contract at a mighty steep price, a price too high for Mayfield.
But Willie still persevered. Back in Minnesota, Willie found an old contact in Willie Murphy and became the original singer of Willie & The Bees. Walker and Murphy shared a past in the Val-Dons. After Willie and the Bees, there was Salt, Pepper and Spice, a Blood Sweat & Tears / Chicago-type horn band in the seventies.
Most recently, Willie has collaborated with the legendary Twin Cities-based soul/blues/R & B powerhouse The Butanes.  Together, they recorded three highly acclaimed modern soul records and toured the Netherlands, Switzerland and Japan.  He also fronts his own R & B unit, Willie Walker and We “R” with whom he has a monthly residency at the Minnesota Music Café in St. Paul.  Willie has also partnered up with Minnesota’s own Paul Metsa, renowned singer, songwriter, author and teller of tales.  It’s just Paul’s guitar work and Willie’s voice interpreting everything from “Blowin’ In The Wind” and “My Girl” to “What A Wonderful World” and “Good Time Charlie’s Got The Blues.”
Walker's music comes from a different time, a different place and a different point of view. He's one of the few vocalists from the era that is still standing and that can still sing. And the fact that we're north of Chicago, there aren't many people in this town that has a past like Walker. Willie, it's good to have you in town.
Portions excerpted from Mike Elias' article in The Chord



to write a review


Brilliant old-school soul that's more timely than ever.
In soul music, the legion of under-recorded and under-appreciated artists is a big one. And singer Wee Willie Walker is undoubtedly among the more criminally overlooked members of that club. After years performing in gospel groups, Willie cut a handful of memorable late-‘60s sides for the iconic Southern soul imprint, Goldwax Records, a couple of which were leased to Chess’s Checker label and are prized by collectors. But in all-too-familiar fashion, Willie realized nothing from this work. Nonetheless, he has remained active over the decades, performing and occasionally recording in his adopted home city of Minneapolis where he moved from his native Memphis in 1960.

Walker has been on a tear this past three years. First came his 2015 Little Village Foundation album, If Nothing Ever Changes, which picked up three Blues Foundation nominations and enthusiastic reviews. It then snagged Best Blues Album and Comeback Artist of the Year at the Living Blues Awards.

With the release of his newest effort, After A While, Willie’s resurgence achieves a new high point. In the Anthony Paule Soul Orchestra he has found an ally with the muscle, groove and sheer creativity to give his vocals a fitting showcase. Going back to his Memphis cover of the Beatles’ “Ticket to Ride,” Walker has long shown an appetite for material outside the province of Southern soul. With this release, in intimate collaboration with a deeply seasoned roster of Bay Area musicians, he has crafted a recording that’s extraordinary for its depth and breadth of emotional impact and musical variety.

Here’s a track-by-track account of this remarkable recording, which in a just world, should top the major music-award lists in the coming year.

Second Chance
This mid-tempo stomper sets a rock-solid groove with ultra tasty horns, guitar and keys forming a seething bed under Willie’s vocal. The song’s message is a hopeful one: being clear-eyed about who we are, where we’ve been and where we’re headed. Written by Christine Vitale (Paule’s wife and creative partner) it shows continuing songwriting maturation as she explores the need to forgive — especially ourselves.

After A While
Willie’s impressive phrasing skills on this ballad (also a Vitale composition) suggests he might profit from doing more jazz-tinged material along these lines. The horns are velvety good and the octet sounds far bigger than it is. Drummer Derrick “D’Mar” Martin doubles on vibes while Charles McNeal dishes up a sweet, sweet tenor sax solo. This one takes me back to slow-dancing at the El Monte Legion Stadium in the day.

I Don’t Want to Take a Chance
Willie Walker originally cut this George Jackson composition for Goldwax in the 1960s, and listening to it today proves what a durable instrument his voice has proven to be. If anything, Walker sounds like he’s got more range today. Willie’s vulnerability is undoubted: he’s been hurt one too many times. Every commitment-phobe out there’s going to resonate to this one. The insinuating Latin beat offers plenty of spots for Tony Lufrano’s burbling B3 fills.

Romance in the Dark
The arrangement of this Big Bill Broonzy/Lil Greene song summons up the sound of Brother Ray Charles’s ‘60s bands with their sparkling arrangements and hard hitting rhythm sections. Willie has a field day with this naughty hymn to hanky-panky.

Hate Take a Holiday
Co-written by Walker, Anthony Paule and Eugene Williams, it’s hard to imagine a more timely song. That it’s found here speaks to the thematic maturity of After Awhile. Sure, the album also embraces traditional soul topics like love and its loss. But this song takes it from the personal to the universal as Willie encourages hatred to take a break. It’s a healing message sorely needed today. One that cuts across racial, religious and economic lines.

Thanks for the Dance
The band effortlessly assumes a border vibe with this Latin-tinged celebration of two bodies entwined on a dance floor. Anthony Paule’s guitar suggests a dusty cantina somewhere in South Texas — a place where Marty Robbins and T-Bone Walker both do their drinking and dancing. A place where distilled romanticism is on tap.

If Only
We’re back in Memphis territory with this stomper, a regretful ode to a broken relationship. Woulda, coulda, shoulda, — there are no replay buttons in love.

Cannot be Denied
A song about an absent father connecting with a nearly grown son he’s never known, it’s all here: the doubt, the fear, the anticipation, the realization. Walker’s emotional commitment to the subject matter is astonishing; it comes as no surprise he was a co-writer on this one. Fearless material such as this expands soul music’s emotional palette.

Look What You’ve Done to Me
Locked in with Walker’s exhorting vocal, the band chugs along at a pace aimed to get dancers moving. Derek James’ smearing trombone and Tom Poole’s incisive trumpet get showcases, squalling at the band’s breathless tempo.

I Don’t Want to Know
This mid-tempo shuffle has a lean, West Coast feel with horns and organ burbling behind Willie as he admits his denial about the doings of a certain bad-acting woman. Anthony Paule’s guitar provides T-Bone-steeped articulation to Willie’s dilemma.

The Willie Walk
An instrumental romp showcasing the full band that delivers a master class in old-school groove.

Lovey Dovey
When you cover material that is as hallowed as this duet originally cut by Otis Redding and Carla Thomas, you better be sure to bring your A-game. That is not an issue here. The decision to hew closely to the original is a wise call on this Stax classic. Terrie Odabi sings the Carla part while Willie’s Big O vocal cover gets right down to Otis’s “Caw-caw-caw” exhortations (which, I understand, was Redding riffing on the first syllable of Carla’s name). And check out how “D’Mar” Martin’s drums lock with Paul Olguin’s bass to produce the kind of rhythmic engine that was first perfected at Stax.

Your Good Thing (Is About To End)
This deeply soulful take on the Mabel John original takes it place among the song’s seriously great covers. Willie and the background singers trade off in fine church-infused fashion as the frontman again shows off a vocal instrument that has only sweetened and expanded its range with age.

Singling out supporting players is probably an exercise; the entire congregation grooves with a confidence earned in decades of bandstand and recording work. As co-creators they do what all consummate soul bands do: they underlay Wille with support that’s never strident, never calls attention to itself, and is always tasteful. The background singers also do yeoman work on on “Cannot be Denied” and “Hate Take a Holiday.”

The big spacious production, captured in Fantasy Records’ live room demonstrates what a modern soul band can accomplish working with top-notch material and fronted by a singer of Wee Willie Walker’s caliber. Anyone with a penchant for soul and blues done right should be sure to give After awhile close attention.