Mel Waiters - Hole in the Wall
One of the anthems of the soul-blues scene is Mel Waiters' "Hole in the Wall," which was released on Malaco Records' Waldoxy label in 1999. Many a night I heard Pervis Spann drop this on his late-night radio broadcast on WVON, and in places like the Fifty Yard Line, Artis' Lounge, and other places in Chicago frequented by working-class, middle-aged black people, a jukebox wouldn't be a jukebox without it. Waiters, whose performing career began in 1974 and whose recording career didn't take off until nearly two decades later (during which time he did some radio DJ work and landed a contract with the U.S. goverment to perform for the military), had two albums on smaller labels before signing on with Malaco and breaking out with Material Things, which, amazingly for a soul-blues album, broke into the Top 100 of Billboard's album chart. "Hole in the Wall" was pulled as a single from that album, and it made it all the way to #24 on the R&B sales charts, again a major feat for a soul-blues record.
It's no surprise that "Hole in the Wall" fared so well. Soul purists will certainly decry all the sythesizer work and the drum machine, but in all respects this is a record that Tyrone Davis could've put down during his Dakar heyday. As the groove chugs along, Waiters spins his fun tale about his favorite after-hours joint, where one can find "smoke-filled rooms, whiskey and chicken wings" and so much fun that "no one wants to leave." Waiters has revisited this good-timing theme on many subsequent releases, including "Juke Joint" and, from his newest album, "Throw Back Days," and his audience is still eating it up!