Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Andre Williams and the Goldstars "Nightclub," Andre Williams “Hoods and Shades”

(PravdaBloodshot) During his now sixteen-year long comeback, there have been some recurring mistakes made by the many bands and labels who have made records with Andre Williams. There have been albums that have played down to white audiences' expectations of Wesley Willis-like "weird black guy cursing for our entertainment," there have been records that applied Williams' brilliant naughty streak and sly sense of humor to rock or hip hop sensibilities. And sometimes either the band or Andre got lazy and just went into autopilot, making Andre-esque songs that sound like Andre songs but were really nothing special. These two records avoid all those traps, though both, to a degree, risks falling into the last one by saluting the Fortune/One-Der-Ful 50s/60s-era recordings that made Andre immortal (to discerning fans). The five song “Nightclub” EP of classy sleazy R&B peaks with an semi-lascivious ode to "Hot Coffee" (semi, because some folks get that lustful about actual coffee) and on the ominously creepy "Nightclub." There's one Gary "U.S" Bonds-esque rocker ("Hard Way") that is an odd fit, but it's still pretty good (Springsteen would dig it), and on all the tracks Mr. Rhythm's world-weary voice finds sparks of wicked glee. The full-length on Bloodshot has some surprising greatness – the biggest surprise being that Don Was, notorious for over-producing, had a hand in one of the most minimalist Andre albums ever. Though still unmistakably reflecting on the humorous records Andre made in his original heyday, these are raw bluesy street poems, and despite utilizing support crew that includes the legendarily soul strummer Dennis Coffey (who was, regardless of what was said in the Soul Train documentary, the first white guest on the show, not Gino Vanelli) and the architect of modern garage grit Jim Diamond, the record has more of a vibe of a prison toast field recording than a slick studio production. But that’s a deception, as the spare music on here is spectacular, wonderfully supporting a six-minute jail-to-juke joint epic about Swamp Dogg, that like “Mr. Bojangles” relationship to Bill Robinson, isn’t really about Swamp Dogg, but I bet it is.

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