Will and the Bushmen

  • Will and the Bushmen
  • Gawk (Mustang) 1987 
  • Will and the Bushmen (SBK) 1989 

Formed in Mobile, Alabama, but later based in Nashville, this nifty pop quartet did two inspired things on its first album: write a tributary bio-song entitled “Neil Young” (they had already eulogized Alex Chilton on a pre-LP B-side) and get Mississippi’s Tim Lee and Randy Everett to co-produce three tracks. Otherwise, the modest Gawk — in the Windbreakers’ style, but not as moody or as instrumentally accomplished — merely has great tunes, excellent harmony vocals (by guitarists/songwriters Will Kimbrough and Sam Baylor) and a solid dollop of the innocent spunk that greases the wheels of young talent.

Although there’s nothing wrong with Will and the Bushmen, there’s nothing really right about the band’s major-league debut, either. Most noticeable on remakes of the three best songs from Gawk, producer Richard Gottehrer fits the group’s music into the tasteful kind of arrangement that — like a tomboy in her first dress — gently discourages youthful ebullience.

[Ira Robbins]