Robert Williams

  • Robert Williams
  • Buy My Record EP (A&M) 1981 
  • Late One Night (A&M) 1982 

Drummer/singer/composer Williams has played with some real heavyweights in his low-profile career: several years as a member of Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band, tours with Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods, an LP with Hugh Cornwell. So it’s hardly surprising that the credits on Williams’ solo records read like a who’s who of modern music. Appearing on these two discs are the likes of Mark and Bob Mothersbaugh of Devo, a couple of Go-Go’s, Cornwell, Danny Elfman, ex-Door Robby Krieger, ex-Wing Laurence Juber and a veritable orchestra-full of Beefheart and Zappa sidemen. So much for the illustrious company.

Musically, Williams has absorbed a lot of different styles and spews them back with alarming variety and an overriding sense of fun. From mock-raga (on a neat remake of “Within You Without You” from Late One Night) to straight pop-rock, heavy dance rhythms, reggae and jazz-funk-art-fusion, Williams tries everything and gets away with most of it. The four-song EP is a bit closer to Beefheart with Zappaesque lyrics; the album expands the musical scope and succeeds more in terms of accessible smart-aleck rock.

[Ira Robbins]