As late-career renaissances go, Andre Williams' is hard to top. A producer, musician, songwriter and A&R man in R&B, soul and blues circles in the '50s, '60s and '70s, Williams crashed and burned in the late-'70s, only to be resurrected in the mid-'90s with a series of albums featuring lascivious, unrepentant garage funk.
That's All I Need finds Williams sounding downright sober and serious, two things seldom heard on 50-plus years of previous recordings. Williams' newfound sobriety doesn't register high on the party meter, but That's All I Need certainly opens up all kinds of new avenues of expression for Williams. The guy has done as much living as any five or six people randomly combined, and it shows.
We have Williams taking on phony patriotism ("America"), drugs ("There Ain't No Such Thing as Good Dope"), regret for bad behavior ("Amends") and a definitive statement of purpose ("My Time Will Come"). Williams' characteristic strut and swagger are kept on a fairly short leash, but surface with a snarl on "Tricks," "When Loves Shoots You in the Foot" and the slow-burner "Too Light to Fight." "Cigarettes and My Old Lady" is vintage badass, but with a few years on it.
Williams' backup band—various members of the Dirtbombs, Electric Six, SSM and others, plus a true ringer, legendary guitar player Dennis Coffey—lays down a tight, terse, blues-informed groove.
Williams has clearly moved into a new groove here; long may he run it around.