Lil' Ed and the Blue Imperials – Jump Start (2012)

Share this:

Lil’ Ed and the Blues Imperials serve as both a direct link back to the legacy of the old blues master J.B. Hutto and also the living template for Alligator Records’ house-rocking style of electrified roots music.

So, sure, their forthcoming release Jump Start, due on June 5, 2012, includes a cover of Hutto’s “If You Change Your Mind,” but elsewhere, this album’s 13 Williams-penned tunes shiver and shake like a hard-bucking classic car — muscular, old school and brawny. The late Hutto was Williams’ uncle and musical mentor, drawing an unbroken line back to Chicago’s deepest blues.

But Lil’ Ed and his long time backing band, including guitarist Michael Garrett, bassist Pookie Young (Williams’ younger half-brother), and drummer Kelly Littleton, aren’t inclined to make any historical pitstops — heck, they rarely even downshift. From the incendiary soul of “If You Were Mine,” to the winking sexual come ons of “Musical Mechanical Electrical Man,” to the rough and randy “Kick Me to the Curb,” the Blues Imperials burst out with the strength and suddenness of a thunderclap. Three songs in, and I’m already out of breath. The organ-fueled ballad “You Burnt Me,” the first of five songs to feature Marty Sammon on keys, gives Williams a chance to welp and howl but, even then, his unleashing a series of scalding guitar fills.

Hang on, tight. Williams floors it through “House of Cards,” telling off a particularly reprehensible scofflaw, then hilariously negotiates his way through a new relationship on the jazz-inflected, double entendre-filled “Jump Right In” — then summons a raw vulnerability on the autobiographical “Life is a Journey.” The Hutto track, a devastating plea for redemption, might have been the album’s second-half peak — if not for the explosive “No Fast Food.” That song doesn’t just rock the house; it threatens to blow the whole thing down.

Jump Start is a tour de force, as raucously felt and blisteringly articulated as anything Lil’ Ed and the Blues Imperials have ever done — and that, friends, is saying something. These guys, since they finally nailed down their sound with this lineup more than two decades ago, have always made raw-boned, incendiary records that blend the deep emotions of old with the fiery intensity of the new. This one, though, might be their best yet.

Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials won the prestigious Blues Music Award for Band Of The Year in both 2007 and 2009 and also took home the Best Live Band Award in the 2011 Living Blues Critics’ Poll. Williams was recently nominated for a 2012 Blues Music Award for B.B. King Entertainer Of The Year and his whole group again for Band Of The Year. They will perform on the Crossroads Stage at the Chicago Blues Festival on June 10, 2012.

[amazon_enhanced asin=”B007T8HC7A” container=”” container_class=”” price=”All” background_color=”FFFFFF” link_color=”000000″ text_color=”0000FF” /] [amazon_enhanced asin=”B001BWQA5K” container=”” container_class=”” price=”All” background_color=”FFFFFF” link_color=”000000″ text_color=”0000FF” /] [amazon_enhanced asin=”B000FQJPGE” container=”” container_class=”” price=”All” background_color=”FFFFFF” link_color=”000000″ text_color=”0000FF” /] [amazon_enhanced asin=”B000068QUY” container=”” container_class=”” price=”All” background_color=”FFFFFF” link_color=”000000″ text_color=”0000FF” /] [amazon_enhanced asin=”B0000009YI” container=”” container_class=”” price=”All” background_color=”FFFFFF” link_color=”000000″ text_color=”0000FF” /]

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
Share this:
Close