Get Wild!

Lil' Ed & The Blues Imperials

Alligator Records, 1999

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 08/04/1999

Lil' Ed Williams is a living success story. When he and his band, the Blues Imperials, were selected to appear on a compilation of blues bands, they arrived at the studio and plowed through three songs, each in one take. The label's owner was so impressed that he offered the band a contract on the spot, and with their remaining studio time, they cut their debut album, Roughhousin'.

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It's been a few years since Lil' Ed & The Blues Imperials have been heard from, and while their latest album Get Wild! is a welcome return for this band, it's almost like some of the spontaneous fun this band embodied has passed along with time.

Williams is a superb guitar player, and can work a slide like no other these days. The rest of the band - guitarist Michael Garrett, bassist (and half-brother to Williams) James "Pookie" Young and drummer Kelly Littleton - are no slouches themselves, and they continually lay down grooves that will make you want to get up and dance.

But if you're looking for the good-time blues that was heard on songs like "Chicken, Gravy & Biscuits" (from the album of the same name), you might be a little disappointed. Williams and crew still play more contemporary blues, but their subject matter is a little more serious on Get Wild! than one might have expected.

There still are the pleasers on this disc, like the opening track "Singing Slide", "Compact Man" and the irresistable "Get Out!". And while I can't say I followed the story told on "The Monkey And The Rabbit," it too is another song that should put a smile on your face.

But for the most part, Williams and crew stick to more straight-laced blues. While this is a bit of a letdown for me personally, the band makes the best of the material at hand, with songs like "She Don't Love Me No More," "Change My Way Of Living", "The Cannonball" and "Nothing I Wouldn't Do" all standing out.

The only real mis-fire here is the last song, "Pet Cream Man," a song which I have no friggin' idea what it's supposed to be about. Sorry, gang, but this is a song that could have been left on the cutting room floor.

It's not that Lil' Ed & The Blues Imperials were the crown princes of lighthearted blues; if anything, their music was more of a celebration of life. Get Wild! somewhat continues in this pace, albeit more slowly.

Rating: B-

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© 1999 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Alligator Records, and is used for informational purposes only.