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CD Review



Andre Williams - Aphrodisiac
Pravda Records
          Recorded with The Diplomats of Solid Sound as his backing band, Williams manages to create one of the most sleazy, greasy R&B/Soul records of the past decade. There is no big career revival/concept bullshit going on with this album, just a great soul album from an artist who has been slogging it out for years without the proper respect, though people are now starting to be turned on to him thanks to his string of great records starting in the '90's that continues to this day.
          A true R&B legend, Williams was born in 1936 and hit his first musical stride in the '50's when he became a noted songwriter and producer, with his most notable cut at that time being his production of "Shake a Tailfeather" by the Five Dutones. Simultaneously building a name for himself as an artist, Williams recorded a plethora of singles for the Fortune label which didn't really make the national charts but sold quite well regionally, allowing Williams to keep working and building his name so he could grow the production and songwriting aspects of his career. It is during this time that he recorded his signature song "Bacon Fat," which featured Williams talking over the music instead of singing. Sensing a good gimmick, Williams has kept this style for the most part and has picked up a lot of acclaim as being a pioneer of rap music. Jumping to Motown Records for awhile in the early '60's, Williams' career stalled and he wrote a few B-sides and got a few singles released but, for the most part, was locked in limbo for the better part of five years. He next jumped to Chess where he released a bunch of singles and kept up his production work for other artists at other labels. Eventually deciding to join Ike Turner's band, by the time Williams left Turner some 18 months later Williams was a near-helpless junkie with a derailed music career. Sadly, he stayed on the fringe of the music business for years until he got back into music full-time in the '90's, having finally shaken off his self-destructive habits and dedicating himself anew to his musical pursuits.
          Releasing more albums in the past fifteen years then he did during the previous forty, Williams shows no signs of ever slowing down, using his street pimp/hustler persona as an endless fount of song grist. Nothing proves that more than the groovy funk Williams lays down masterfully on this CD. More soulful than raucous, Williams returns to the Good Foot, leaving his recent garage rock excursions behind. Though this record displays less of the sex-crazed Williams than his last few albums, that dynamic allows this record to become the most accessible disc Williams has released since his comeback. The organ-groove combo Diplomats of Solid Sould do not disappoint either, giving Williams' slightly frayed vocals a confortable bed of deep, deep soul to lay on as they work their hoodoo. The only negative aspect of the album is its' mere twenty-nine minute running time. Though it's always better to have an album leaving you wanting instead of overstaying its' welcome, when you hear soul music this good you never want it to end.
          This album is going to be adored most by fans of gutbucket, raw soul who don't mind having a great rock band in the background making it a little bit edgier. Don't think Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye or D'Angelo. Think instead of James Brown or Don Covay with the Funk Brothers backing them back in the late '60's when all were at the very height of their powers. This is a delightful soul album with which you should become very well acquainted. Pick it up. - Scott Homewood



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