Willie King

Living in a New World

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Though the folk revivalists of the 1960s venerated blues as a form of proto-protest music, it was rare to hear the music turned into an overtly incendiary forum. As political revolutionary, former MC5 manager, and New Orleans disc jockey John Sinclair points out in his richly perceptive liner notes, the blues were always conscious of a race struggle, but the force of the music was always directed away from the topic. This created a dramatic tension in the music that, in some ways, is absent from Willie King's politically sparked music. Even then, the lyrics aren't so obviously topical that the songs dip into cliché -- at least, any more than the blues usually do. That said, King's overtones never fall into protest folk mumbo-jumbo either. Instead, he uses the two lyrical approaches (political music and the blues) to inform each other and make each sound more palatable than either have in a long while. The Liberators are a fairly groomed ensemble. The music doesn't sound glossy so much as finely polished. There's not too much edge to it. And though the band does manage to effortlessly swing, their playing rarely seems dynamic and alive.

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