Andre Williams plays the kind of music that SLUG magazine is proud to get behind. Down and dirty, completely authentic & 100% original, a real soul rebel, his obscurity is almost baffling, and somewhat conflicting reports of his start in the music business only further the stuff of legend—pretty "cult" for a guy who wrote "Shake a Tail Feather" and produced the first version of "Mustang Sally.” Long before I had discovered his cut "Sweet Little Pussycat" on one of the wonderful Las Vegas Grind compilation LPs, I read about The Cramps’ fascination with Andre Williams in RE/SEARCH Publications "Incredibly Strange Music." This highly recommended book follows a group of esoteric collectors and artists through a landscape of forgotten gems of sonic madness. Miss Poison Ivy and the late, great ghoul, Lux Interior take us through a litany of outsider rockabilly, blues, soul, and exotica weirdo classics. They wax poetic on Williams' tale of Lolita-like attraction, “Jail Bait,” written about his exploits as an underage, AWOL, navy steward chasing the pretty young poison and jailhouse confessional.
"Bacon Fat" was his biggest solo hit in 1957, and Andre often utilized the talk-song banter and "novelty" aspect on many of his songs, such as "Going Down to Tijuana, "Rib Tips," "Pig Snoots" and others. He would depend on his skills as an entertainer, a flashy dancer that drew many ladies to the audience, reaching the Apollo to open up for the likes of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins. His early success led to stints at Motown—Andre was present at Stevie Wonders' first session and he put the Miracles on the bill of their first big hometown show. By the ‘70s, he even found himself co-producing Tina Turner’s last solo record for United Artists, Let Me Touch Your Mind. Unfortunately, Andre also found himself keeping pace with Ike Turner’s insane work nonstop, fueled by cocaine. Andre dug in deep, eventually destitute and with extremely poor health. Much of the ‘80s was spent in this state. He somehow managed to survive and resurfaced in the ‘90s.
In 1996, Andre returned with a collection of songs, Greasy, for the Norton label, including a sonically rich sound astoundingly faithful to the late fifties Fortune records he cut. Andre’s backing band on this album is phenomenal, including guitarist Dick Taylor, of The Pretty Things. The El Doradoes, a surviving doo-wop group led by Pinkie Lee Moses Jr., provided the backing vocals. What he recorded next with Mick Collins of The Gories, the raunch rock album Silky for In The Red records, was a bold flash forward. Fuzzed out garage soul grooviness oozes all over an almost beligerent sounding Williams, announcing on the first cut that he is still "Agile, Mobile and Hostile." The then-62-year-old goes on to sing about "Bonin'," "Pussy Stank," and marijuana.