I Wanna Go Back To Detroit City
Bloodshot Records, 2017
REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 04/15/2017
It might be easier to list the few things Andre Williams hasn't done in his lengthy career than what he has done. I guess when your work dates back to the '50s and you've been active in just every decade since, that doesn't leave much. And in the case of Williams, who has been a singer, writer, producer, publisher, manager, and a celebrity as well as homeless, it really doesn't leave much.
The title of his fifth album on the Bloodshot label is just that – a return to the city where he began his career after he left Alabama in the '50s. Now you might think that a man nearly 80 years old during this recording might not be able to revisit the sounds of youth with any amount of success, but Andre Williams is far from your standard human being.
While the music here is a mix of Motor City garage rock and blues, Williams has plenty of stories to tell that are just as much as part of the equation as the sounds. A man that has lived a life full enough for two people, the topics here include life on the streets, an occasional tune about the opposite sex, broken friendships, and his invisibleness to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Musically, the nine cuts here are all over the place, as are Williams' vocals as he alternates between talking and raspy singing. Bits and pieces of funk, psyche, soul, and blues-influenced rock are found in each song, and the band does a great job of creating a timeless groove. Album highlights like “Meet Me At The Graveyard” with its swampy rock and Tom Waits comparison are up there with the best of the genre, and the percussion heavy “Hall of Fame” puts a unique spin on the album. However, it's the gravelly vocal work and psyche-soul of the title track that really gets to the meat of what Williams is doing best, and thankfully it's a theme that runs through the disc.
Andre Williams has been incredibly prolific for a man now in his eighth decade. For fans of gritty rock similar to The Stooges or The Cramps but who also appreciate the soulfulness of, say, Little Richard or John Lee Hooker, I Wanna Go Back To Detroit City (or anything Williams has done in recent years, really) is a must.