ANDRE WILLIAMS and the SADIES TEAM UP FOR NIGHT AND DAY
This is the last great outlaw record ever gonna be made. No gimmicks. No record-industry jiggery-pokery, no studio hanky panky. This is Andre Williams at his most raw, honest, and immediate. This is a reality you didn’t even know existed. Maybe you didn’t want to.
For anyone not yet seduced by the man, be assured that 75-year-old Andre Williams is the first and last of a breed of pimp-rolling R&B wise men, the real deal, an authentic totem of the low-down and disreputable, a man who has played outside the law, and outside the record business, and somehow managed to come out not only alive, but with a fervent cult behind him.
Backed by the Sadies, the best thing to cross the Canadian border since prohibition, and a team of friends and special guests known worldwide as the finest of their breed, dirty bluesers who have earned the trust of the ancient hustler, including Jon Spencer (who directed these sessions) and Matt Verta-Ray of Heavy Trash, Danny Kroha of Detroit’s own gutter-blues superheroes, the Gories, the unsinkable Mekon, Jon Langford, and of course, behind it all, the Sadies long-time line-up of Dallas Good on guitars and keys, his brother Travis Good on guitars and fiddle, Mike Bellitski on drums, and the mighty Sean Dean on the bass.
The first sessions began over three years ago at the Key Club studio — an old school jungle of analogue gear an hour outside of Detroit. Andre had just been sprung from a few days in the county cooler where he was being held on powder possession until his manager came to bail him out, a charge he would eventually beat, but his most recent stop in stir is well reflected on this record in tracks like “I Gotta Get Shorty Out of Jail,” and “Your Old Lady,” a song about sending a lover back to her man after he gets out of prison.
Throughout the session Andre kept his rum buzz and his harangue on – and even if he showed up missing his bottom row of dentures (“I like my rum, coz I got no teeth, I let it flow over my gums”) he was still able to drawl and percolate his continuing narrative of life in songs like “America”: “Living in America ain’t no fun, better have some money or you’ll be on the run, and it’s a goddamn shame, without cash you’re trash… the men are dogs, the women are hogs, but that ain’t a bad thing… it’s better than living in Africa.”
Behind Andre’s dark take on “America,” and throughout Night and Day, background vocals are handled by the dynamic duo of Kelly Hogan and Sally Timms, who put Andre’s worldview into start contrast with their flawless, hopeful harmonies.
More recently, after the sessions for this record began about three years ago, Andre was able to shake off some of his demons and has been living clean ever since, a decidedly fresh development.
Says Andre, “I like where I am now. My family admires me now. I kinda wanna keep it like that.”
Dallas Good writes in the liner notes for Night and Day that the first session “was good but we were worried for Andre. A couple years later, everything was different. He was sober and sharp. Agile, mobile and hostile. Night and Day. It wouldn't be fair to the new Andre (who I'd never met after working together for like, twelve years) to let the old Andre have this album. So we did more.”
But stoned drunk or stoned cold sober, nothing ever changes too much in the world of Andre. In “Bored” he says “The worst thing in the world is a black man being bored, and broke… and he’s in his room alone, getting stoned —you got a problem America! … I don’t use drugs no more... but I will, if I have to.” In his most humble moment on the record, “I Thank God,” he thanks his Creator for “letting him live till this hour” … while also noting that he “could shoot a man in five minutes.”
It’s not all so grim: Andre’s perverse sense of humor is heard to its brightest effect on the positively ebullient country number, “Hey Baby!” and he pours on some serious old-school Detroit charm to croon a classic last-call duet with Sally Timms, “That’s My Desire.”
The resulting record is a modern classic , with Andre showing remarkable range —from heartbreak and bitterness to ribald humor, swagger, raunch, sleaze, fear and retribution, romance gone right and romance gone wrong, and all in the spirit of the sloppy fun that has made him a legend. Night and Day, indeed. There is wisdom in these goddamn grooves.
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