Alabama bluesman, Willie King, has developed a following with his strong juke joint blues that mixes his own take on classic delta and Chicago blues with a topical-protest slant to some of his own material. His music might loosely described as Howlin’ Wolf mixed with Mississippi Fred McDowell with some R.L. Burnside seasoning for a driving, almost hypnotic mix.
His most recent Freedom Creek release, One Love, certainly will satisfy his fans as he launches into Sweet Potato Man (“I’m your sweet potato man, I want to work for you.”) with its relentless groove, followed by I Like It Like That, opening with stinging King guitar and a funk groove while guitarist Debbie Bond and Willie Lee Halbert second his vocal lines in a manner similar to that heard in to some zydeco acts.
Ride Sally Side is another North Hills rocker as he sings about having getting together in the old days and just pitching down a wonderful time, while Holing (sic) the Line, with some emphatic harp and sax, sports a lyric about other people trying to wreck one’s life but don’t worry as long as you hold the line. Writing in the Sky (Katrina), a slow blues with a John Lee Hooker feel, has King reflecting on the horrible hurricane that wreaked havoc through the Gulf Coast (“Did you see the handwriting in the sky all the way from Africa.”), while the one cover, of Howlin’ Wolf’s Spoonful, benefits from the slowed tempo with King one of the few vocalists able to successfully to evoke Wolf when singing. Mamaluchi mixes the Hideaway melody with a tinge of Jimmy Reed for an easy going rocker as King sings about going to get his baby. The title track is an upbeat lyric about how we are all interconnected despite what seems to make us seem different and that brings us hope for better.
There is nothing fancy about the music here, and its similar to a lot of other ‘primitive-sounding’ juke blues, but Willie King places his own stamp on simple, driving music and has a focus in his performances that provide the performances with more personality than similar efforts by others. Its music for listening, but more importantly its music to dance and get one’s groove on with.
I believe I purchased this CD and wrote this review for Jazz & Blues Report, but not sure if it was published. I believe this was Willie King’s final recording and marks the end to a strong body of meaningful and fervent blues.