Jerry Williams


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Jerry Williams (who also billed himself as Jerry Lynn Williams) was a guy who did quite well for himself as a songwriter and had the right kind of friends (among them Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Mick Fleetwood, and Nicky Hopkins, all of whom played on his latter-day solo efforts), but didn't quite get over as a recording artist, for reasons that seem to have as much to do with his social skills as his talent. 1979's Gone is often said to have been Williams' best bet for a hit album, but between the time promo copies were sent to the press and when the album was due to ship, Williams had some sort of dispute with his label that caused them to halt a proper release, and only a few copies trickled out before the album quietly went away. More than 35 years later, Gone has finally reappeared in an authorized CD release from Real Gone Music, and while it's hard to say if radio would have been more receptive in 1979 to its singular mixture of blues, rock, funk, and big guitars than they would be today, it's an inarguably strong album with a distinct sound and feel. Disco still walked the earth in 1979, and the four-on-the-floor stomp of the drums on Gone suggests that someone at Warner Bros. was hoping for a dancefloor hit with this album, but Williams' busy guitar work fuses bluesy filigree and hard rock crunch in a way that ignored the D-Word altogether, and this music is funky in a taut, big city way but seems incapable of celebrating empty hedonism, favoring more soulful good times and richer human experiences, and the crosstalk between the horns/keys and the guitars push this into a zone that's not rock or soul but something in between (though soul wins the day on Williams' passionate cover of "I've Got Dreams to Remember"). Not soul but deeply soulful, not funk but satisfyingly funky, not rock but tough and full of fiery guitars, Gone is a one-off from a true maverick talent, and while it isn't the lost classic Williams' advocates claim it is, it certainly deserves a wider audience than it received, and the artist certainly came up with something more exciting than Eric Clapton ever did with Williams' songs.

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