Chicken, Gravy And Biscuits
Their rollicking second album includes more raw slide guitar, shouted vocals and joyous energy. Totally raucous. "Nothing lame, nothing tame"--CHICAGO TRIBUNE
LIL' ED WILLIAMS, Guitar and Vocals
MIKE GARRETT, Guitar
JAMES "POOKIE" YOUNG, Bass
KELLY LITTLETON, Drums
Produced by Lil' Ed and the Blues Imperials and Bruce Iglauer
Recorded at Streeterville Studios, Chicago, IL
Engineered by Justin Niebank and Jay Shilliday
Mixed by Justin Niebank
Cover photos and design by Peter Amft
Special thanks to Nora Kinnally, Cindy Wells, Bill Wokersin, Kerry Peace, Ken Morton, Robbin Sebastiani, Chris Young, Bob dePugh, David Forte, Derek Ault, Bill Haas, Eric Charles Babcock, Sam Gennawey, Jay Septoski, Zannell Robey, Connie Scott, Jimmy Johnson, Bill Fitzgerald and the staff of Fitzgerald's, Bill Gilmore and the staff of B.L.U.E.S., WXRT-FM, John Paloian, Rose, Ed, Denny and Sue.
Direct from the car wash to you! It's been just two years since Lil' Ed Williams put down his buffer's rag for the last time, slipped the steel slide on his little finger, and walked out of his job at Red Carpet Car Wash on Chicago's West Side to become a full-time musician.
Amazingly, Ed's first album, Roughhousin', was already on the market while he was still working at the car wash. It was the kind of record that legends are made of, cut in one magic night, when we brought Lil' Ed and the Blues Imperials into the studio to record a single tune for The New Bluebloods anthology album. They had never even seen a recording studio before, so they decided to handle the session just like a show, ripping into their song with the same spontaneous energy they bring to the bandstand. Their wild performance left the Alligator staff and engineers cheering and begging for more. The band was more than glad to oblige; they cranked up and cut 29 more songs in three hours! Somewhere during the night I shook hands with Ed on a full album recording contract. It was like a scene from a movie, when four young unknowns become professional recording artists in one night!
It's been a pretty wild two years since Roughhousin' came out. Lil' Ed and the Blues Imperials have played all over the country and around the world. Their cult following -- "Ed Heads" -- has multiplied beyond belief. When the Blues Imperials were first formed, they could hardly draw a crowd even to the tiny Chicago blues bars. Now they're on the road most of the year, headlining at showcase clubs like the Lone Star in New York and Nightstage in Boston, and playing giant blues festivals in San Francisco, Sacramento, New Orleans, Vancouver, Long Beach, New York City and Chicago. They've travelled to Europe five times to play festivals and clubs there, and in the summer of '88 they steamrollered through Japan on tour with Albert Collins.
Oh, there have been a few changes in two years. Two of the original Blues Imperials, Dave Weld and Louis Henderson, didn't take to life on the road. But Mike Garrett and Kelly Littleton stepped into join Ed's brother Pookie, and the Blues Imperials sound stayed as raw and rocking as ever. If anything, their wild show got even wilder. Now, besides his patented knee drops (off a ten-foot stage in Japan!), duck walks and back bends, Ed often ends the show perched on Mike's shoulders, both of them playing while Mike strolls through the crowd.
The new album, Chicken, Gravy & Biscuits, was cut just like Roughhousin' -- the band just went into the studio and let it rip, while a horde of Alligator staff and friends watched and cheered from the control room. We took our time on this one, spending two whole evenings recording, so that Ed could do alternate takes on his new songs. But other than a few more hours, we did it just the same way, with everything "live," no overdubs, and Ed parading around the studio, laughing and putting on a show and inspiring everyone, just like he does on the bandstand. Lil' Ed and the Blues Imperials served up Chicken, Gravy & Biscuits just the way it should be -- good, hot 'n' greasy.
-- Bruce Iglauer