Wills-who sports long hair and sunglasses and looks like a member from the original Blues Brothers movie band-has kicked around the jukes of Galveston Bay and Houston for so long; he's blended into the beer stains and cigarette smoke.
A true Gulf Coast roots man, guitarist Wills plays blues, country, surf and swampmeat boogie with equal authority. Behind the biker-bar blues-rock veneer are consistently exquisite guitar work and intense Mojo rhythms that mean business.
The opening "Stoked '96" immediately gets the 13-track "Special Session" as well as listener's guitar juices flowing. Freddie King is an obvious influence on much of the album, which is "dedicated to the memory of Bandido Dollar Bill." Wills blows a fine harmonica on "Day After Day" and the Delta-style acoustic guitar inspired "Bad News #2." "Easy Does It" finds Wills revealing for two-minutes and twenty-one seconds his jazz guitar phrasing side. And "B.L. & T." has Wills upholstering the slide for a couple minutes of wish-wash over the rosewood fretboard.
"Pavones Sunset" finds Wills harking back to his youth and surf roots. The opening title track, which is driven by a pounding bongo beat provided by Kuko Miranda, sets the island and surfboard vibe found throughout the rest of the CD. The Mexican waltz instrumental "Big Wong" follows the opening track, which sets a nice tone for the next instrumental, "50/50." If you haven't caught onto it yet, this CD contains no vocals. However, it does contain 10 original songs from Wills that allows a side "Special Session" fails to reveal.
Island Music Productions, 2401 45th St., Galveston, Texas, 77550
24-hour hotline #-(281) 474-7092
This review is copyright © 2000 by Matt Alcott, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.