Jr Walker & The All-Stars – Walk In The Night

17th May 2021 · 1970s, 1972, Music

The exhilarating melody of this tune has stayed with me since childhood.
I had not heard of Jr Walker & The All Stars when it was a modest hit in the summer of 1972 and I’m not sure I even thought of them as a soul group.

This semi-instrumental showcase for Walker’s sax, written and produced at Motown by Johnny Bristol, has more in common with jazz, though it’s anchored by a killer R&B groove, contrasting with the free-flowing sax and ethereal vocals floating over the top.

Junior Walker – born Autry DeWalt II in Arkansas, and raised in Indiana – drew his influences from jump blues and was inspired by performers like bandleader Louis Jordan and jazzmen such as the trumpeter Illinois Jacquet and sax man Earl Bostic – hence his decision to take up the sax when he formed his first group, The Jumping Jacks, way back in the mid-Fifties.

It would be decades before I discovered that Walker had been in business for more than 15 years on the R&B and soul circuit before this, and that he was the Motown star responsible for funk and soul classics like Shotgun and (I’m A) Road Runner in the mid-Sixties.

I have only just now learned that in the Eighties he played with the dreadful rock band Foreigner, most notably on a single called Urgent, when – unforgivably – they used a younger, slimmer sax player to mime his part in the video.