WBGO Radar

Dave Stryker: Eight Track

cover art for Dave Stryker's CD Eight Track

Dave Stryker’s Eight Track takes us on a joyous trip through the Wayback Machine – all the way back to Omaha, Nebraska in the mid-seventies - when the teenage guitarist was playing his first gigs.

A local sax player, Bobby Thompson, took Dave under his wing.

“He showed me these songs – standards, mostly, but he would always throw in a pop tune,” Stryker recalls. “It was kind of a tradition, and people dug it, because they’re hearing a song they knew.”

Stryker continues Thompson’s tradition, and plays pop songs from time to time as a way to keep his audiences, and his band, with Jared Gold on organ and McClenty Hunter on drums, on their toes and all smiles.

“I’m doing a tune by The Carpenters - something people wouldn’t expect - and I say, ‘That’s going to be on my next record - Dave Stryker Plays The Hits Of The Eight-Track!” he recalls. “People would laugh; it started out like that.”

Before long, fans started to ask when Stryker’s mythical album of seventies hits would hit stores.

“People would come up to me afterwards and say, ‘Hey man, I want to buy that!”

So he decided to give the people what they want: as a result, we now have this wonderful collection of seventies classics, as played by Stryker’s band with special guest Stefon Harris on vibraphone.

“Those kinds of tunes back then, they actually had nice changes,” he says, “so the cool thing about it is that it’s on a musically high level; it’s not like there’s any dumbing down.”

On Eight Track, there’s plenty to make anyone smile who recalls the days of bell-bottoms and Soul Train, but it’s not nostalgia for nostalgia’s sake: Stryker and company mine songs like Curtis Mayfield’s “Pusherman/Superfly” and The Spinners’ “I’ll Be Around,” for lyrical gold and pure listening pleasure.

“There’s a connection made there when you play a tune that people know and can relate to,” he says. And it’s kind of fun – not everything has to be super-serious!”

Yet even here, there are surprises – Stryker takes on Pink Floyd’s “Money,” and recasts “Aquarius” from the Broadway musical Hair as an uptempo burner with an Elvin Jones chaser.

“At this point, I’ve made a lot of records, and played with a lot of people,” says Stryker,  “and I’m really glad to have a project that communicates with a lot of people.”

So Stryker’s Eight Track is here – by popular demand – and we are better for it. Thank you, Dave!

   - Tim Wilkins, WBGO digital content producer

The audio for this album is no longer available. Visit iTunes and Amazon to preview and purchase.

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