Home Read Classic Album Review: Robert Pete Williams | Robert Pete Williams

Classic Album Review: Robert Pete Williams | Robert Pete Williams

The murderer-turned-bluesman's tunes are as sharp as a stilleto and just as deadly.

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This came out in 2002 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):

 


Along with preserving the Delta sounds of living legends like R.L. Burnside and T-Model Ford, Mississippie’s Fat Possum label occasionally digs through the crates, unearths a long-forgotten gem and refurbishes it for posterity.

The latest is this 30-year-old artifact from late singer-guitarist Robert Pete Williams, a former murderer and Angola prison inmate who, like Leadbelly years before, won a pardon on the strength of his musical ability. Listening to these 11 tracks, one can only surmise the judge in the case was one helluva Delta blues fan — Leadbelly seems like Liberace next to the primal and unpredictable Williams, who weaves his howling moan and unconventional, ragged guitar picking into free-flowing, transfixing folk-blues laments on prison, sex, death and the Vietnam war. The recordings are as backwoods as a chicken coop — you can actually hear roosters crowing, children yelling and trains passing by throughout the disc — but from stem to stern, Williams’ tunes are as sharp as a stilleto and just as deadly. Solid gold.