Keep on Smilin' is the definitive Wet Willie studio album, bluesier than a lot of their other work, and much of it also somewhat more laid-back. Beginning with "Country Side of Life," the band sounds tight, tuned, and in top form. Their playing is clean and crisp, and the vocals exude a bold confidence. The hit title track is a compelling reggae-country meld that's one of the more interesting and long-wearing country-rock hits of its period. It's surrounded by gospel-flavored material and also one of the neater Stax-influenced tracks ever put down by a white band, "Soul Sister," which is also a great showcase for the Williettes. Other highlights include the acoustic country ballad "Alabama," a major change of pace for this band with some clever lyrical conceits; the ultra-funky "Soul Jones" (which manages to work in a quote from the Allman Brothers), and the soulful rocker "Lucy Was in Trouble," which became a key part of the group's concert sets. The only drawback is that the group didn't quite have enough material to cover a whole album here, and also they're a little too loose compared with their live performances, as on Drippin' Wet. The 1998 Capricorn remastering has an especially full sound, improving significantly on the original LP.
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AllMusic Review by Bruce Eder