The "guitar-slinger" legend for which Texas is justly famous sometimes overshadows another Texas tradition – the big, honking tenor sax sound of cats like Illinois Jacquet and Arnette Cobb. Add to that list Mr. Larry DC Williams, whose tenor work is definitely the feature of "No Sleep."
Though it’s a studio recording, "No Sleep" has a very ‘live’ feel. Recorded straight off the floor in just two passes (one for the rhythm section, one for the horns), it’s a warts-and-all document (no overdubs to be heard, no fixes applied) of a relaxed, confident band of veterans who’ve been doing it for so long that – well, they probably could do it in their sleep.
Which means that whatcha get is a little bit loose, in the sense that tempos occasionally vary, and the energy level goes up and down . . . but hey, in case anyone’s forgotten, this is what real musicians, making real music for real people, sound like. It isn’t perfect. It’s not supposed to be perfect. It’s about ‘feel.’ And this one’s got ‘feel’ in spades!
Starting off with Bill Doggett’s (did someone mention Texas tenors?) "Hully Gully Twist," the band soon moves into funk territory on Larry’s own "Either It Is," reminiscent to me of something the Average White Band might have done back in the 70’s. Next is the classic "Soul Serenade," followed by Larry’s own "No Sleep" – this one too has a retro-funk feel, though the bridge might throw you a bit – there’s a hint of native American drumming in there that renders the whole thing highly original.
Then it’s back to Mr. Doggett’s catalogue for another classic, "Honky Tonk." Yeah, it’s been done to death. But Mr. Williams is a tenor sax player from Texas. He has a right. End of argument.
Larry contributes the raucous "One Night Stand," then shows his smoky, "late-night" chops on Ace Cannon’s "Tuff." Get past the slight stumble as they kick that one off and you’ll be treated to some incredibly deft fretwork from Mr. Pierce, whose resume includes a stint with Ray Charles(!). "CT Shuffle" is just that – a short, swingin’ blast of shuffle. "Sassy," a funky workout from the pen of Mr. Pierce, wraps things up. Here, too, there’s a strong hint of the seventies . . . remember Earth, Wind & Fire?
If it’s sharp edges you want, this one’s not for you. It’s all very laid-back, and there aren’t any vocals to distract from the grease of the grooves.
All blues? Not really, not by my definition, anyway.
All cool? Oh yeah!
And hey - who needs sleep, anyway?
This review is copyright © 2001 by John Taylor, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.
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