Andre Williams: Silky
In the Red
LORD KNOWS THOSE second-generation kitsch-a-billy bands have never done it for me, from the Reverend Horton Heat to Southern Culture on the Skids. Such stuff is usually about as convincing as an industrial band that wears cowboy hats and samples Jimmy Swaggart, or David Byrne's thinly veiled macarena routines. O, there is gold in them there pioneers, such as the Cramps, whose act worked for a couple of years, and Tav Falco, who is an earnest eccentric. These bands took to the '50s when that decade was at its most misremembered and least knowable. But why turn a nostalgia for misogyny and anti-communism into a pleasure source? I prefer the authenticity of illusion to the illusion of authenticity. As for now, thrift-store clothes were cheaper before the Reverend passed through town, and I will never forgive him for that.
Among the second-generation kitsch-a-billy practitioners is Mick Collins, who created a ghoulish garage rock with his band the Gories. But Collins has gotten himself a beard of authenticity in producing fellow Detroit-er Andre Williams. Williams is, as they say in Detroit, a Rock and Roll Legend, having written "Shake a Tail Feather" and "Humpin', Bumpin' & Thumpin'." But, as legend has faded, he hasn't gone the tuxedoed route of the R&B revue. Williams has contributed his distinctive mumble to the Parliafunkadelicment crew, and on Silky he can frequently be heard referencing something called "pussy" with licentious zeal.
Collins brings along former Gorie guitarist Dan Krohna and together they apply fiber-optic technology to make things as self-consciously messy as possible. I credit good amps with their success. The modern (read: '80s) touches are subtly tasteless enough to work; see the twang of "Country and Western Song" and the sheet-metal percussion in "Bring Me My Car Back Unstripped," which pushes Williams out of the juke joint and into the junkyard. Ultimately, the record's carefully constructed feel is more Tom Waits than Esquerita, but Williams blossoms under this kind, if not gentle, form of exploitation.
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