CD: 9 Songs, 34:32 Minutes
Styles: Psychedelic Blues, Blues Rock
Deep down on a gut level, all of us fear chaos. We shudder when we hear news reports about rioting in the streets, government coups, and financial crises. Heck, most of us shudder when children throw tantrums in church or at the grocery store. We prefer order in our lives, and in our music. Even in this age of synthesizer-blazing techno and laser harp, classical compositions still endure. So does the blues. We fans know what to expect: songs of cheating, heartbreak, and hard times; repeated lyrics and bar rhythms, and wicked instrumental solos. Blues hustler Andre Williams, at the age of 79, invites us to step out of our comfort zones and embrace chaos on his new CD, I Wanna Go Back to Detroit City. “Psychedelic blues” is indeed the best descriptor for its nine original tracks. His press release from Chicago’s Bloodshot Records deems him a “sonic chameleon.” As he morphs forms, listeners are allowed to let their mind expand and wander.
His promotional information sheet reveals: “Back in the ‘50’s, when Andre first arrived in Detroit from his Alabama birthplace, he made his mark with Fortune Records and his doo-wop group the 5 Dollars. Later, on his own, the Cramps-covered “Bacon Fat” and his underground classic “Jailbait” were hit records. Berry Gordy, Jr. hired him at the fledgling Motown Records. There he produced Mary Wells, The Contours, Stevie Wonder, and others…He wrote ‘Shake a Tail Feather,’ songs for Ike and Tina Turner, Parliament and Edwin Starr.” Andre has come back to his roots, his “musical birthplace,” on his fifth album for Bloodshot Records.
As Williams performs on lead vocals and tambourine, several other musicians join him: Matthew Smith, Danny Kroha, Dennis Coffey, and Peter Andrus on guitars and vibraphone; David Shettler, Jim White, Mike Alonso, and Ben Van Camp on drums; David Shettler also on percussion, synthesizer, and background vocals; Eric Villa, Steve King, Troy Gregory, and Phil ‘Greasy’ Carlisi on bass, and Maria Nuccilli, Colleen Burke, and Matthew Smith on additional backing vocals.
Andre talk-sings in a hoary, raw-edged voice throughout the entire album, but that’s part of his style. He blends ‘70’s funk, psychedelic rock, soul and blues in an eclectic fashion, paying little attention to established blues formats. With that said, this song sounds the most traditional:
Track 08: “I Don’t Like You No More” – Like a well-played CD or beloved pair of shoes, love wears out. It’s the task of both partners in a relationship to stretch their hearts to the fullest, which can be hard when only one of them is interested in doing so. Even fancy gifts and lavish spending are no substitute for genuine feelings. “I bought you a brand new car, a silver fur mink coat. I was getting ready to buy you a brand-new boat. But you start acting funny, I’m gonna stop giving you my money. I hope one thing you know – I just don’t like you no more.” Matthew Smith plays fantastic 12-string slide guitar here.
Embrace chaos with Andre Williams as he says I Wanna Go Back to Detroit City!