Pulse: Tower Records’ Music Monthly
Andre Williams: Bait and Switch
By Jeff Tamarkin
If you’re gonna run around with the nickname “The Black Godfather” and inspire someone like Lux Interior of the Cramps to say that you “make Little Richard sound like Pat Boone,” then you’d better deliver. Andre Williams certainly has the rep to back up the high-falutin’ plaudits. Back about 45 years, he was turning out some of the thorniest rhythm and blues around, slinky classics like “Bacon Fat,” “Jail Bait” and “Greasy Chicken.” A spotty career history followed until Williams finally disappeared from radar, falling litany to the usual itinerary of showbiz excesses. A late-‘90s comeback earned Williams the survivor tag, but Bait and Switch is not the work of a man hanging on to anything. Unlike some of his contemporaries, Williams isn’t ready to be thrown into the assisted-living home to drool in his oatmeal and tinkle the occasional lounge fave on the ivories. Bait and Switch is a raw, gritty eye-popper. Produced by Norton honcho Billy Miller and Matt Verta-Ray (who doubles on razor-cut guitar), and featuring guest appearances by singers Ronnie Spector and Rudy Ray Moore, guitarist Robert Quine, saxist Lonnie Youngblood and more, the record aims for the gut and hits it square-on. It’s distort-level, garage-band loud, it’s nasty, it sure ain’t slick, and it that sounds like a production flaw, then you’re missing the point. Just about every time Andre Williams gets written up nowadays, the phrase baaad motherf*cker” somehow finds its way into the verbiage. ‘Scuse us for not being more original, but it suits him. Don’t let the dapper, sharp dressed, good-timin’ geezer on the cover fool you – this mofo ain’t your kind ol’ grandpa.