Andre Williams, Dirty Diamonds | Schubas | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Andre Williams, Dirty Diamonds Soundboard Recommended Critics' Picks

When: Sat., May 29, 10 p.m. 2010

Soul singer ANDRE WILLIAMS has worked in music for more than 50 years as a performer, producer, and songwriter, and cut his teeth at legendary labels like Fortune, Motown, One-derful, and Chess. He's been there, done that, and wiped up the mess with the T-shirt. In the 80s he came off the rails, laid low by drugs and for a time so destitute he took to panhandling—it hurts to imagine how many great records he might've made in those years—but his comeback, now well into its second decade, isn't just a campaign to market his 60s greatness to a new crowd. Williams, 73, still has it, and people still love it. He's long been known for using a lot of blue language in his rhythm and blues, but the new That's All I Need (Bloodshot) will disappoint the porn-soul junkies. He's in elder-statesman mode, straight-up holding forth, full of pithy things to say about addiction, poverty, nationalism, aging, regret, love, and pride. (If you really miss the smut, check out his first book of short stories, Sweets, which came out last year on Kicks Books.) Recorded in Detroit with members of the Dirtbombs and the Electric Six—and featuring appearances by guitarist Dennis Coffey of famous Motown house band the Funk Brothers—That's All I Need simmers with sparse, smoky garage-blues licks that curl up around Williams's authoritative voice. He sounds like a man who's trying to make his peace with God, but he's definitely bargaining from a position of strength. —Monica Kendrick

Over the past few years locals the DIRTY DIAMONDS have been trying to find a sweet spot with their balance of dusty girl-group soul, classic Chicago house, and post-What's the 411? hip-hop R & B. Their original lineup—three female singers and a dude making beats—didn't quite get them there, but as a septet with live guitar, bass, and drums, they might have found it. Their second release, a new EP called Monster Ballads (downloadable free at myspace.com/pumpthedirtydiamonds), is an electro-fied slice of pop R & B that bumps and squirms with bubby, extroverted energy. The last time I saw the Dirty Diamonds their stage show wasn't as tight as their recordings, but I'm sure they're working on closing that gap. —Miles Raymer

Price: $14, $12 in advance

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