Bentley’s Bandstand: March 2015

March 02, 2015
By Bill Bentley, Columnist

Gone by Jerry-Williams
Jerry Williams, Gone. When is a 1979 album not really a reissue? How about when the artist goes over the line with his label and as a result has his new album pulled from the distributor’s shelves right before it’s to be sent to the record stores. That’s exactly what happened to Jerry Williams’ disc in 1979, and it’s been sitting in limbo ever since — until now, when it sounds as heartbreakingly awesome as it did way back then. Williams was a wild man from Texas who’d been in Little Richard’s band in 1965 when he was 16, sharing guitar duties with Jimmy James (aka Jimi Hendrix), and then made three albums that barely saw the light of day. When he got signed by Warner Bros. in ’78, Rolling Stones engineer Chris Kimsey asked to produce and the rest is history, sort of.

Jerry-WilliamsThese ten songs sound as powerful and fresh now as they did 36 years ago, and it’s no accident that during the ‘80s Williams became the go-to songwriter for Eric Clapton, Bonnie Raitt, Delbert McClinton, and a bandstand full of others. Maybe it’s because songs like “Givin’ It Up For Your Love” and “Easy on Yourself” combine the power of deep soul with rock and roll’s edgier outer limits. Or maybe it’s because no one has the richness of heart and muscularity of playing like Jerry Williams did. During their crazy days of running together, Clapton once described Williams as “looking like Jack Nicholson and singing like Stevie Wonder.” And that’s just the start. Finally, the album that totally captured the majesty of the man who tagged himself His Jerrness is unleashed on the public, and music lovers everywhere can find out what they’ve been missing all these years. Williams might have died in 2005, leaving a mighty hole in the musical landscape of unknown heroes, but now the Lone (Star) Ranger rides again.