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There are some artists who, when you see their name up next in the queue, you get excited to write another chapter about. Not only are their songs usually above par, but their careers are full of unusual twists and turns, or in the case of someone like Wynonie Harris they’re overflowing with colorful anecdotes or scandalous tales that make for scintillating reading.

Others however pose more of a problem. There are those like Paul Gayten and Big John Greer who have their work frustratingly hard to find in the modern age, leaving unfortunate gaps in their narratives that won’t be fixed until one of the petty publishing companies suing the Internet Archive for posting free copies of old 78 RPM Records for anyone to hear gets off their collective asses and actually puts out clean digital remasters for streaming services of every last song these artists ever released.

We won’t hold our breath.

But then there are those like Lester Williams who create a different type of dilemma. While he was a talented and versatile performer – a decent singer, fine guitarist and good songwriter – he had the temerity to not give a damn about sticking exclusively to one genre like rock ‘n’ roll and instead felt it was perfectly acceptable to combine his rock style with that of the blues making his ongoing inclusion here bound to ruffle the panties of some who want everything in life to be cut and dried.


My Friends Don’t Think Much About You
Obviously the fact you’re reading this review (or barely skimming it while the Visine goes to work on your hungover eyes after the holiday weekend) tells you that once again Lester Williams, one part blues, one part rock ‘n’ roll, made the cut yet again for a song that very well might be equally, if not slightly more, welcome in a pure blues review.

But that’s why he’s here.

Somebody has to serve as the last man on the ship, otherwise if we exclude Williams then it falls to another artist to take up that same position – maybe Gatemouth Brown – who then would have the same questions raised about them that Williams faces. If he too was deemed “too bluesy” and gets thrown off, we’d move to the next, say Peppermint Harris, and the next until the ship itself was only half full and rock’s story becomes far more one dimensional.

That doesn’t mean you throw the doors open to everybody, but you need to be able to discern which elements of their respective styles are being advanced with each record. In Williams’ case there have been plenty of songs we’ve excluded because it’s the blues aspects that are at the forefront.

In the case of Sweet Lovin’ Daddy the surface demeanor of his vocals and guitar fills probably fall into that category meaning this would be a good choice to jettison. But then you listen to the horns and just what those crooning vocals are saying and it’s more in line with the rock tableau which gives you reason for pause when making your final decision.

Now to be fair if this was Lester Williams only release it’s a good chance we’d skip over it, simply because to tell about one artist’s impact on rock when his lone song had no impact on it and was straddling boundary lines to begin with would make little sense. But when he’s had some hits over a longer career that absolutely helped to bring in some positive attention to rock ‘n’ roll then it’s natural we try and show why he never became bigger than he was.

And why wasn’t he bigger, you ask? Because of the very fact that he was so hard to pin down stylistically, bringing everything here full circle once again.


If I Can’t Have You Daddy, I Don’t Want Nobody Else
Let’s start with the blues parts of this song and get them out of the way first since that’s going to be be the focus of a lot of skeptics who think Lester Williams and his guitar should hop the next train for another town and leave us be.

The guitar in general of course will become a major instrument in rock over the next two or three decades, in some people’s minds defining the entire genre more than anything else. But those people – wrong though they may be as to thinking the guitar is an all-but mandatory participant in each rock ‘n’ roll song – would probably still scoff at this particular brand of guitar playing being considered a vital piece of the rock story.

Its tone and the slow pace with some bent notes give off a decidedly different impression than most faster paced rock riffs. These are blues fills, pure and simple, and thus the song itself probably seems like a more suitable inclusion in the blues than in rock. But they also take up exactly twenty seconds of playing time – the intro, a brief solo and the fade. That’s far less than the piano, drums and horns that dominate the record.

Then there’s the delivery of Sweet Lovin’ Daddy which finds Williams whining – and that’s the only word that does justice to his vocals – telling us about leaving his woman for reasons unknown. There’s such sadness in his delivery that you think he’s got to be blue, obviously putting it in line with a blues motif.

But listen again. He’s the one leaving HER. She’s crying wanting him back but he’s going off in spite of her pleas. That’s a rock ‘n’ roll move, isn’t it? Furthermore, his melodic croon with its lilting easy-going pace seems out of place in blues circles. His high-pitched voice might throw you off, but it’s certainly not a usual thing to encounter in that realm.

Then the rest of the song’s arrangement – those sighing horns that never let up, the surprisingly heavy-handed drums and the icy piano floating in the back – are things that are far more suited to a rock playlist.

Granted this is not a GOOD rock record, even though it’s not a terrible record overall, but that’s where we come back to parsing each element to see how they work together to advance rock’s cause to try and determine how to grade it when everything is weighed equally.

Standing In The Back Door Crying
This manages to balance the diverse ingredients out fairly evenly, hence its inclusion. But in taking the least exciting attributes of both blues and rock, it means it doesn’t fulfill the primary goal of ALL music which is to create an interesting record.

Sweet Lovin’ Daddy may be a perfectly acceptable representation of components from both genres, but it’s not a very pleasing one for either.

Had they downplayed the horns and let Williams’s guitar have those answering lines, then we’d gladly keep this out of a rock overview and let the blues have it to themselves. Conversely if you drop those twenty seconds of guitar fills, or simply play them with more vigor and a slightly different tone, few people would think the blues had any claim to the song and that it’d obviously be a rock cut through and through.

But artists aren’t so thoughtful as that. They don’t always care about OUR needs seven decades down the line when categorizing things.

In the summer of 1952 Lester Williams had blues fans whose needs he wanted to meet and he had rock listeners he didn’t want to lose altogether, therefore he tried splitting the difference.

His problem wasn’t in the attempt per say, but simply in choosing methods which produced fairly underwhelming results.


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