Willie King & The Liberators
Living In A New World
(Rooster Blues c.2002)
by Craig Ruskey
Review date: September2002
"Keeping the Blues Alive Award"|
Achievement for Blues on the Internet
Presented by The Blues Foundation
Following up his "Freedom Creek" disc from late 2000, Willie King leads his band, The Liberators, through a smoldering set of eleven tracks that cover a wide swath of styles from polished gloss to voltaic grit. Clocking in at 56 minutes, "Living In A New World" delivers truthful messages of social injustice and racism from the opening bell to the last note with the title track leading the charge over a simple two-chord vamp with King and his second vocalist, Willie Lee Halbert, offering the goods. "Crawlin' Blues," a slow drag, and the supercharged "Stomper" call on John Lee Hooker and Howlin' Wolf, both hearty influences, while King adds shimmering yet simple guitar, and on "America," the band returns to a spit-shined southern-soul feel. The spirit of Chester Burnett rides along the knife-edged sharpness of "You So Evil" with Halbert continuing to echo the thoughts of Willie King, and for "All Tied Up," there's a gleaming R&B feel well to the fore. The ability of King and his Liberators to shuffle with the best of them shows on "Got To Have Love," and while there may be more of a studio-shine present on this disc, the juke joint always seems to loom just outside the door, proven potently again in "Ain't Gonna Work." The uptown groove of "Imagination" belies the plantations so close to King and his cohorts, but for "Terrorized," life in that sometimes arcane plantation South comes across searing the senses for eight minutes with lyrics defining the horrors that have been part and parcel for far too long. As with "Freedom Creek," the set winds up with a spoken monologue of King sitting comfortably and talking with the listener about the importance of love and respect of tradition - a superb closing to a top-shelf release. Perhaps a bit less direct than his last effort for the label, "Living In A New World" still traverses the obstacles of living too close to the old world. For more information, visit www.roosterblues.com and look over other available discs from Booba Barnes to Bilbo Walker. A definite winner!
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