Some combinations are just meant to be, pairings that make little sense on paper but once experienced exude their own logic. The confluence of always solid as a rock Canadians The Sadies and beatifically grizzled blues-soul belter Andre Williams would seem an unlikely union, but something loosely swinging and hypnotically strange (in best way) occurs when the boys plug in and Williams lets his hazy, vaguely menacing glossolalia flow. Slip the needle into Night & Day (released May 15 on Yep Roc) and one enters a world of bad motherfuckers and flagrant racists where everyone has a gun tucked in their boot. It’s a volatile environment dappled with devilish fiddle, crunchy electric guitars and a rollicking rhythm section on a mission to grease hips and fill speakeasy dance floors. Above it all rides straight-shootin’ Williams in his dinged up, no bullshit glory, as potent today as ever, a veteran’s veteran that’s been kicking out sides since the late 1950s.
Williams took a dark turn in his work in the late 90s when he started cranking out what he calls “sleaze rock,” and his thang is definitely a compatriot to Snatch and the Poontangs and the early output of Schooly D and Too Short. The cool thing that happens when Andre hangs with The Sadies is how much more musical it all becomes, defying genre restrictions to let Williams’ country side hang out and steering through prisons and ghetto avenues with a fascinated curiosity that’s infectious (though it would probably be wise to swallow a little prophylactic penicillin just to be safe).
Many sections have an old school strip club grind that only amplifies the dirty feel that permeates Night & Day. However, a haunted backdrop surfaces occasionally inside Williams’ non-sequitur storytelling with lines like “I drink my rum right out the bottle so I can hear the witch when she holler,” and especially, “The worst thing in the world is a black man being born.” This self-described “70-year-old nigger” doesn’t want to pull the trigger but he does want to make sure folks know not to fuck with him – a message that comes through loud and clear on this set.
The Sadies are at their ramshackle, tipsy best on Night & Day, which displays a nice alternative to their more structured and often emotionally heavy original material. Williams seems to kick the jams out of them, and in turn they spark the old salt to his best work. So, not a combo any of us might have envisioned but a (bitter) fruitful one.