Andre Williams and the Sadies: "One Eyed Jack"
By Maura McAndrew | 4 June 2012
Blues-punk legend Andre Williams has been through his share of hard times. Over the course of his impressive sixty-year career (!) as a songwriter, producer, and musician, he’s become as notorious for his drug use and countless run-ins with the law as he is for his sinister, stream-of-consciousness vocal stylings, for which he has been dubbed “the Father of Rap.” Now eighty, he’s managed to lose none of the danger that has long made him such an intriguing presence. Night and Day, Williams’ newest collaboration with the Sadies (with whom he worked on 1999’s Red Dirt), is a magnetic, if half-crazy affair, solid despite its long gestation: sessions began in 2008 but were put on hold due to (drumroll…) Williams’ legal and drug problems. But any eighty-year-old who’s had a life like Williams can be forgiven for, in general, not giving a shit, and he sinks his teeth into the record’s first single, “One Eyed Jack” croaking out his rambling story, sounding fully comfortable with the slippery old character that he is.
The Sadies and Williams are a good match; the former creates a many-layered groove that meshes perfectly with Williams’ dark lyrics and growling delivery. And while the man himself is undoubtedly the main attraction here, this is a veteran band that deserves more attention for being consistent and generally badass, both in their many collaborations and their own original work. “One Eyed Jack” is a grimy delight, and Williams effortlessly projects the kind of grizzled wisdom that would make Bob Dylan jealous. It’s a story ostensibly about some sort of gangsta-pimp extraordinaire, described in the chorus as such: “One eyed jack / Bad mutha-sucker / Born without a sister / And born without a brother.” Williams’ delivery is matter-of-fact with a generous sneer: Baaad mutha-suckah. There might not be much complexity to the song itself, but it’s worth a listen just to hear Williams still doing his thing after all these years, still totally unique and untouchable.