Jody Williams – Return of a Legend

Return of a Legend
Return of a Legend

Rarely has an album been more aptly named. Williams was one of the key Chicago sessionmen in the ’50s and ’60s, the musically sophisticated guitarist who added the licks and solos to Chess, VeeJay, and other recordings by everyone from Howlin’ Wolf to Jimmy Witherspoon, Bo Diddley to Floyd Dixon. Out of the business since the late ’60s, this album definitely marks the return of a legend.

Williams took up guitar under the tutelage of Elias McDaniel (a.k.a. Bo Diddley). Williams learned to play in Bo’s trademark open E tuning on a pawnshop guitar, but somewhere also acquired a serious understanding of music far beyond the typical bluesman.

In the late ’60s, disillusionment with the music biz set in, and Williams went to electronics school, eventually working as an engineer at Xerox for the next 26 years. His guitar gathered dust until after his retirement, and the result is this hot album.

The highlight is Williams and his guitar. The guest appearance by Billy Boy Arnold carries through their long musical ties. He plays with a verve and vigor that sound as good today as it did on the classic records.

Equally good are Bill Dahl’s classy liner notes that tell Williams’ story with colorful anecdotes and solid scholarship. These notes are perhaps the best thing written on Williams to date.

This article originally appeared in VG‘s May ’02 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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