304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124
304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124
Bluesdoodles rating: 3 Doodle Paws – A thoroughly enjoyable album shot through with the blues and oodles of humour backed by some outstanding instrumental performances matching Willie’s vocals.
Family always comes first for Willie Jackson and he spent years working on the railroad to support them…although he wrote songs in his spare time. When an unspecified accident curtailed his work in 2009, he set about bringing his songs to an audience and played bass and sang with his own ensemble called The Tybee Blues Band (so called because many of them lived on Tybee Island, a city close to Willy’s hometown of Savannah in the state of Georgia.)
His 2017 debut was an EP called Willie Jackson Blues and set the scene for a man with a deep, velvety voice and a quick, if sometimes risqué, mind that allows his wordsmithery (if that is a word) to include subtle and not so subtle double entendres…but then that has been an integral and essential part of the blues since the unveiled smut of Shave ‘Em Dry by Lucille Bogan from 1929 or the thinly veiled Press My Button by Lil Johnson from 1936. This lovable and inoffensive trend continues on Willie’s new album, All In The Blues which showcases his vocals, his lyricism and a strong backing by the Tybee Band. The blues underpin most of the songs here mixed with a bit of the rhythm of R’n’B and an essential extra element…fun; although, like us all, he does have some serious moments too.
After the screaming children herald the opening track, I’m Your Landlord, the band kick in and Willie sets about the wordplay as single, double and triple entendre lace the song with humour as the suggestions for alternative methods of paying the rent are aired. It’s backed by an almost reggae, funk feel and humour runs through the melodies too. There’s also the bonus of a clever, picked guitar solo. The Whole Book Is Wet is a rollicking, horn-infused, rhythm and blues with a great bass line and evokes the early seriously funny songs of days of yore and the sax solo fits nicely…the book of the title refers to matches incidentally, although that is no doubt a euphemism.
Come Here Jr. dials down the entendres but still has humour over a barrelling rhythm and two great guitar solos make this even better. Beautiful Disease shows Willie’s slightly more serious side as this tale of infatuation has an infectious riff (sorry) courtesy of a bass line that emulates an upright being played in slap fashion. The piano section is partly hidden by the horns, which is a pity as it could easily have transformed into an excellent one. The Old Man Luv isn’t as obvious as it sounds as, I think, it is a story about old age creeping on. The organ and backing vocals keep the humour of the lyrics and we get another great guitar solo: I don’t understand the sound effects of what sounds lie a crowd as it is slightly distracting…but only slightly.
The next track, Stranger In My Hole, has a touch of swamp about it but with added flute…it does work and the blues definitely inform the complexity. I’m not too sure what the lyrics are about but the guitar entertains brilliantly as I continue trying to work it out. Sticky Hand Blues is old-time r’n’b with sax and keys providing the melody for Willie to come over all protective of his lady.
She Needs Satisfied is a slower true blues with nice guitar and harp to back the story of a need for pill-based assistance in love! Coon Hound Nose takes the blues from Chicago and uses the inevitable trope…but it works and, incidentally, a dog isn’t part of the story. The harp solo is a good ‘un too.
Next is a semi-humorous take on the Adam story as Give Me My Rib Back unfolds with a funk blues backing. Hey Gangster is also slight funk rhythm as Willie is deadly serious about the handling of a violent relationship with his “daughter”…full of horns but with some really clever guitar. The final track, Brother I’ll Take Her, is the most soulful track with a jazzy undertone as the saxophones parp and the guitar and key chords empathise…a strange tale unfolds!
A thoroughly enjoyable album shot through with the blues and oodles of humour backed by some outstanding instrumental performances matching Willie’s vocals.
I’m Your Landlord
The Whole Book Is Wet
Come Here Jr.
The Old Man Luv
Stranger In My Hole
Sticky Hand Blues
She Needs Satisfied
Coon Hound Nose
Give Me My Rib Back
Brother I’ll Take Her
Willie Jackson: vocals
J Stuart: bass
Daniel Jackson: drums
Trosky Lane: guitar
Soloman Baker: keyboards
Ace Anderson: harmonica
Lomax Spalding: guitar
Jimmy Brown: saxophone
Other musicians obviously have contributed but I couldn’t find all of the details – apologies to any I missed.
(iTunes brought me a song from 1927 by the duo William and Versey Smith with Everybody Help The Boys Come Home…a poor quality recording because of its age but, if you listen closely, this was at least 30 years ahead of its time with the rhythms and chord progressions.)