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Keep On Smilin'

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Album Review

Keep on Smilin' is the definitive Wet Willie studio album, bluesier than a lot of their other work, and much of it also somewhat more laid-back. Beginning with "Country Side of Life," the band sounds tight, tuned, and in top form. Their playing is clean and crisp, and the vocals exude a bold confidence. The hit title track is a compelling reggae-country meld that's one of the more interesting and long-wearing country-rock hits of its period. It's surrounded by gospel-flavored material and also one of the neater Stax-influenced tracks ever put down by a white band, "Soul Sister," which is also a great showcase for the Williettes. Other highlights include the acoustic country ballad "Alabama," a major change of pace for this band with some clever lyrical conceits; the ultra-funky "Soul Jones" (which manages to work in a quote from the Allman Brothers), and the soulful rocker "Lucy Was in Trouble," which became a key part of the group's concert sets. The only drawback is that the group didn't quite have enough material to cover a whole album here, and also they're a little too loose compared with their live performances, as on Drippin' Wet. The 1998 Capricorn remastering has an especially full sound, improving significantly on the original LP.

Biography

Formed: 1970 in Mobile, AL

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Wet Willie were, after the Allman Brothers Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd, the hardest-rocking of the Southern bands to come to national attention in the early '70s. For seven years, from 1971 until 1978, they produced an enviable array of albums awash in good-time music, rollicking high-energy blues-rock, and white Southern soul, and for their trouble they racked up just one Top Ten hit ("Keep On Smilin'") and a lot of admirers. In contrast to the Allman Brothers Band, whose jumping-off point was really...
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