Sometimes – listening to today’s radio R&B – it’s pretty easy to forget that original rhythm and blues was a pretty out-there movement. And in the first wave of that movement, Detroit’s Andre Williams was as swaggering, dirty and genuine as it got. He cut his first records in the 50s; worked at Motown, Chess, Fortune; produced Ike Turner, Parliament, Edwin Starr, Stevie Wonder; and – since recovering from a few decades of poverty, alcohol and drug dependency – stepped up to garage rock, recording with the Dirtbombs, Jon Spencer and Jack White.
Andre’s now in his seventies, and his drawling vocal style is as lived-in as ever. Though hits like 1957′s Jail Bait or anything from 1998′s Silky (reasonably called “the sleaziest album ever”) might not stand up to much of a contemporary moral critique, the swampy tracks are musically as strong as ever.
Among his many collaborators are Toronto’s much-loved The Sadies. They’re still pretty weird – “like crawling into a dark hollow in Appalachia and waiting for the LSD to take effect,” apparently – but have cleaner-cut images, a more sedate list of perennial hook ups* and more straightforward country-tinged, blues-y influences. Enough so, in fact, to hook CBC and more mainstream fanbases without compromising their retro roots.
Performing together as on 1999′s Red Dirt and this year’s Night And Day, you can expect a raw, gritty slice of raunchy-rock steeped in musical history and fronted by a true original.
*Neil Young, Neko Case, The Tragically Hip, Blue Rodeo
Add to your festival schedule.