Album Review

Lil Ed & The Blues Imperials - Rattleshake

Lil Ed & The Blues Imperials - Rattleshake

Youve got to admire a guy who in this day and age records live in the studio. Lil Ed roughhouses west side Chicago blues raw, raucous and to the point; hell, most of these are probably first takes, too. But at some point, and it comes pretty early, everything gets too blurred. Though Ed and band generate buckets of sweat with their kickass approach, they generate very little emotion, as if theyd rather not distinguish between feeling and frenzy. The nephew and protege of J.B. Hutto, Ed Williams plays a shredding, shrieking slide guitar, but he falls into a puzzling pattern wherein he kicks songs off with intros as varied as they are visceral, yet draws on a much more limited bag of licks and lines when it comes time to solo. On the uptempo songs especially, it all starts to sound, and feel, the same. With so much emphasis on pyrotechnics, it shouldnt come as a surprise that he puts little into his writing. Indeed, the best track here is a deeply felt recasting of Billy Joe Shavers Tramp On Your Street, on which he and the band both show real heart and soul.