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While an artist is active they may not be at all concerned about their enduring legacy, only with maximizing their current opportunities.

That means trying to get as many hits as possible of course, but failing that they want to remain just successful enough to keep touring, postponing the inevitable move back into boring everyday society for as long as possible.

But eventually that career will end and in order to be remembered you need one song that will outlive you, be it as a catalog radio staple or for artists of this era as the cut which will grace a handful of compilation albums. Maybe, if you’re really lucky, it will be enough to spur some reissue company to put out a collection covering the best of your output with that song as the centerpiece.

Though originally just a B-side, this record is as close as Lester Williams got to make sure that his career wasn’t entirely forgotten.


Everything Is Lookin’ Alright
Considering the brash reputation of rock ‘n’ roll in general, it’s surprising how many songs – and how many hit ballads especially – take on the perspective of doubt and insecurity, especially when it comes to relationships.

So many artists spend their time whining about being dumped you’d think that being a rock star was a worse profession for picking up chicks than driving a cab, working in a delicatessen or being a pig farmer.

But in spite of this, the lasting personification of rock is still one of cockiness and so if an artist can tap into that attitude, especially in a way that is charming rather than arrogant, then it stands to reason that a lot of listeners will gravitate towards that.

Maybe it’s that a lot of them hope the image rubs off on them (cool by association as it were) or perhaps because embodying that cocky demeanor in song validates the way they envision all rock stars to be and so if they can play that role well on records that’s all the better.

I Can’t Lose With The Stuff I Use fits the bill in every way but one… it was not a hit. Yet the laid back swagger that Lester Williams has when delivering it would never let on that he thought it’d be anything but a smash.

Sometimes in rock ‘n’ roll that’s more than enough.


Everybody Listen To Me
The way this song jumps out of the speakers with horns riffing over an infectious rolling rhythm track while Lester Williams testifies over it, the joy seeping from his pores like sweat, you know this he’s intent on pulling this further away from the blues idiom that he’d been simultaneously courting for years now.

But simply giving yourself over to the more liberated musical form and all of the cultural freedoms it espouses will only get you so far. To really connect with rockers you have to speak their language, which when it comes to uptempo songs generally means celebrations of decedence in party anthems and cocky boasts in topics of romance or cultural standing.

Maybe because of his past dual allegience with another genre of music, Williams wanted to leave no doubt who this was aimed at and that he was going to be fulfilling the latter goal with room to spare, as he states with no uncertainty whatsoever I Can’t Lose With The Stuff I Use and then spends the next two minutes hellbent on proving it.

While his higher vocal tone constantly threatens to undercut his assertiveness, he’s undaunted by that prospect and lays into the lyrics with a gleeful smirk that never leaves his face, telling one and all that he’s basically invulnerable to challenges to his supremacy. If blowing your own horn in everyday life only reveals your underlying insecurity, doing so in a musical context, especially surrounded by vibrant instrumental support, tends to have the opposite effect because it comes across as a verbal throwdown in public, almost inviting someone to dispute it on stage, meaning the artist truly believes they can back up everything they say and are willing to prove it.

As a result none of this is the least bit offensive. He’s not putting down rivals, merely trumpeting his own qualifications and letting the band fall in behind him, churning away in support of his claims.

It helps that the lyrics are shaded in such a way as to provide specific evidence – his recounting how his girl offered him a million bucks, no strings attached – as well as more broadly stating his own confidence in his ability to handle anything life throws at him… even offering free advice for others who may want to tap into this mindset in their own lives. As a result it never requires the listener to take sides, or even feel as if they’re the one being diminished by his perceived superiority, but rather they want to be pulled into his orbit.

You might even go so far as to say that vocal tone winds up working in his favor the more vociferously he states I Can’t Lose With The Stuff I Use.

While it doesn’t jibe with our normal image of the strutting bad-ass these characters are most frequently drawn from, once you get into the song you see that it takes the edge off his bragging and actually might make him seem more self-assured because usually someone lacking in an outward trait of dominance – height, riches or a deeper masculine voice – would be hesitant to risk having their position refuted. Yet Williams lays himself on the line without any hesitation which only makes him appear more confident in the end.

As a result this is one case where not only do you admire him for his ego, but you wind up wanting to sing his praises to others and help him in his cause.


If I Keep On Winning I’ll Be Rich Someday
As mentioned in the opening, this is the record which assured Lester Williams’ lingering familiarity.

It’s self-promotional for sure, but he backs up every word with a performance that rings true and backs up his assertion with charm, grace and ease, wrapping it in a musical package that heightens the overall effect, making you feel inspired just listening to it.

Ironically one of the things that I Can’t Lose With The Stuff I Lose did, pulling him back towards rock ‘n’ roll from the blues, would be turned on its head (while also adding to his recognition in a way) when B.B. King cut this song – under a shortened title and with his label stealing songwriting credits – a few years down the road. While the pacing is pretty much the same and the guitar work better, King alters the vocal delivery just enough to drag it into the blues mindset.

If you want to know the difference between the two genres in a real world example listen to how King delivers the line that serves as the heading to this final section. In both versions the final word after “someday” is “maybe”, but the way B.B. sings it is as a question, as if he’s still got some doubt in his mind as to the veracity of that statement.

But Lester Williams retains his confidence by how he lets that word just roll away without changing his inflection at all from the more conceited words that proceeded it.

He may NOT get rich – certainly not as rich as B.B. King did in real life – but in the context of this song Williams also knows it doesn’t matter because wealth is just as much about your own attitude in life and how you view yourself as it is about your bankroll.

When this record stops spinning you have absolutely no reason to doubt that Lester Williams is a very rich man indeed.


(Visit the Artist page of Lester Williams for the complete archive of his records reviewed to date)