Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Cult R&B hero Andre “Mr. Rhythm” Williams – the nickname apparently came from Redd Foxx so it’s cool by me - has been around the R&B, soul, blues, and a touch of the punk, scenes for a long time. Some call him the ‘father of rap’ for his ‘talk-singing’ approach to vocals. He worked for Motown Records and Chess Records; produced records for/with and wrote songs for Stevie Wonder and Ike Turner; and worked with Parliament Funkadelic, John Spencer Blues Explosion, and others and is still a spicy live wire at 80 some years old.
Can You Deal With It? - released on Bloodshot Records, is his 12th solo album (5th on Bloodshot) and it is a foot stomping, handclapping, booty slapping, titty grabbing mess of funk, fuzzy soul, and the blues. It sounds like a combination of Otis Redding and Wesley Willis. Can You Deal With It? is part love songs and fist pounding, drunken sing-alongs and part raunchy, sloppy noise-fuelled romp. Williams is a slightly insane R&B crooner with a slutty soul, and the 9-track album is an interesting and funky release.
The album opens up with the title track breaking down the fence and spitting on your face. “Pray for you daughter” is a song about a lost girl stuck in a downward spiral of sex and drugs, “If you leave me” is a sweet love song about a man who threatens to kill his “ho” if she tries to leave him, and “Rosalie” is a happy, 50s-style, hip-shaker about a girl sneaking out, and maybe giving it up under the porch.
The New Orleans Hellhounds back up Williams with saxophones, organ, fuzzy guitars and attitude. They fit wonderfully next to Williams and his swaggering, naughty, delivery. They set a wonderful beat and fill in the empty moments with a drunken grace. The best two tracks on the album are “Hear ya dance” a slow spoken-word like piece with a man calling up his girl to hear her dance on the phone, and “Your Woman,” an intense bluesy breakdown with mad funk hornage and Williams smoky barking about giving back a woman he doesn’t want any more, or maybe keeping the “old lady.” It definitely has some fun and some relief and awesome swanky jamming and organ grooving to it.
The album dies down with “Can’t take ’em off” – a saucy, throwback sounding end of the night drunken plea to move your panties to the side.
This is not my favorite album, and not the best thing since sliced bread, but it is powerful and interesting and has a naughty appeal. It is some throwback R&B that has a lot more heart than any polished BET featured radio artist of today and it’s worth at least one listen, if not more than that.