Andre Williams with the Diplomats Of Solid Sound – Aphrodisiac

Andre Williams - AphrodisiacAndre Williams with the Diplomats of Solid SoundAphrodisiac (Pravda)

It’s difficult to start a review of any Andre Williams release without referencing the incredible survival story the man went through. Williams started his career with a top ten single in 1956 (“Bacon Fat”) before finding success behind the scenes as a writer/producer/performer for Chess, Motown, Duke and Peacock records (including co-writing “Shake a Tail Feather”). This is a man who’s rubbed shoulders with Barry Gordy, Stevie Wonder, B.B. King and other notable dignitaries, but when he was asked to produce an album for Ike Turner in the early 70s, things took an unfortunate turn for the worst. Ike’s cocaine addition was bad enough that even those within close proximity could develop a habit and when Andre returned home after an eighteen month stint with Mr. Turner, he arrived with a nasty addiction himself.

By the 80s, his coke habit was bad enough to force him into a career of begging on the streets of Chicago, leaving his prior accomplishments as nothing more than a distant memory.

By the mid-90s, Andre got his demons under enough control to make a return to music. Since then, he’s managed to release more albums than he did in his first 30 years of performing. Curiously, most of these releases featured Williams paired with a veritable “who’s who” of garage rock young’ens, supporting him as he examined his inner naughty with titles like “Pussy Stank,” “Looking Down At You, Looking Up At Me,” and “Whip The Booty.” This phase surely brought a smile to Redd Foxx, the man that gave him the nickname “Mr. Rhythm,” but for most, it probably brought a collective “Eeww!” as the product of a dirty old man finding his muse again, with a little help from Viagra.

Aphrodisiac, thankfully, tones down the sexy and tries to bring back the groove. To help achieve this, Williams teams up with The Diplomats of Solid Sound, a collective of Iowa music veterans with a penchant for Booker T & The MG-styled rhythm and blues. The results are what you would expect from a band of white guys from Iowa that have a Hammond Organ at their disposal.

The laid-back soul provides Andre with an opportunity to get a little lazy himself. From the ridiculous “I Don’t Need Mary (Juana)” to a misguided Diplomats-penned rap “Uptown Hustle,” Aphrodisiac sounds like more time was spent on developing the idea of this release than on the actual songs; it clocks in at under thirty minutes and that includes an uninspired instrumental.

Andre’s always had a fairly limited vocal range, adapting a sing/speak style that would actually benefit from his recent soul foray. But until he can muster the necessary passion required for writing top notch soul songs and pair them with a credible band to sell them, it sounds like Williams is content with resting on his movie script history and coasting through his late-period redemption.

4 thoughts on “Andre Williams with the Diplomats Of Solid Sound – Aphrodisiac”

  1. nice elitist review there, dickhead.

    it so fucking happens that the midwest and integrated bands cultivated groove jazz and your racist insinuation that the Diplomats lack credibility because they are white and from iowa is completely uncalled for.

    also by mentioning “Booker T” because an organ happens to be present you demonstrate your lack of experience with the genre. you would probably use the term “Stockhausen” in a review of a Tangerine Dream album.

  2. The Diplomats lack credibility may be because of their past. I’m hard pressed to understand why a band, who’s members hail from over two decades worth of power pop/garage rock, can suddenly transform themselves into a “groove jazz” outfit and not expect to sound a little contrived. The fact remains that Aphrodisiac is a weak album with little inspiration on anyone’s part who participated in it.

    And before you start being assumptive about my experience with the genre, why does nearly every article on the Diplomats (including their own press) list Booker T as an influence? Have ’em list some deeper catalog if you don’t like the reference.

    And most of my Tangerine Dream reviews would probably read: “In der Kürze liegt die Würze.”

    Nice D.R.I. reference too; I loved Dealing With It.


    Chicago, IL – The last four months have not gone too well for 71 year old soul legend Andre Williams. After settling into a senior housing building in Joliet, IL, he was quickly evicted after an arrest for drug possession. Andre then moved into a Motel 6 nearby and was preparing for a 2 week tour of France. He’d been feeling tired and worn out and was missing his bottom teeth. This made eating very difficult, so he was subsisting on Bacardi, cigarettes and soup. The promoters in France had insisted that Andre provide a letter from his doctor to prove he was fit to do a grueling 2 week winter tour of France. Andre went to his doctor and during the exam, he collapsed on the floor and was quickly rushed to the hospital. He had a seizure and his body was basically shutting down due to the diagnosis of pneumonia, alcohol poisoning and heart problems. Andre then spent the next six weeks in the hospital, some of that time on life support after his heart stopped briefly.

    Somehow- Andre pulled through. He went through a brief rehab program, got his prescriptions filled and gathered his strength. He found an apartment on Chicago’s South Side and felt ready to get back to work. A true survivor, Andre will return to the stage May 4 at Beat Kitchen to perform for the first time in months backed by The Diplomats of Solid Sound. This same Iowa group backed Andre on his latest Pravda release “Aphrodisiac”. Please come out and watch the legendary ‘Black Godfather’ perform his old and new songs from his colorful career.

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