Willie And The Dixons – Long Road To Longwood
Self-produced CD – NW001
10 songs – 36 minutes
Formed about four years ago in the town of Euroa in far southeastern Victoria, Australia, Willie And The Dixons are a seasoned group of blues warriors who deliver their music with a roadhouse feel.
Slide guitarist and powerful vocalist Neale “Willie” Williams assembled the trio with the former rhythm section of the late Dutch Tilders, who is considered the father of Australian blues. Peter Beulke (bass) departed before this album was recorded, replaced by Darryl Herring. And Rob O’Toole (drums) left soon after the sessions, replaced by Mick Donehue. But the band continues to drive home the beat as their traverse the continent.
Long Road To Longwood, their debut release, was produced by keyboardist Chris “Darkie” Wilson, who also lends his playing talent to the work. The album features four autobiographical originals along with five covers.
Williams kicks off the opener, “Spend Time With You,” on acoustic guitar as he croons about a love affair in which the lady doesn’t treat her man as an equal. In her busy life, she basically puts him on a shelf, ignoring him until she wants or needs him. It’s an interesting original, which is presented in an alternate take at the album’s end. In the end, it’s clear who runs the relationship because the man agrees to wait “until you call my number/I want to spend time with you.”
But don’t be misled: This is no collection of sappy love songs. From here on out, the band basically kicks into high gear, and it’s off to the races. Williams turns to an electric guitar for a loping version of Muddy Waters’ “Can’t Be Satisfied.” The Howlin’ Wolf chestnut, “Little Red Rooster,” follows with a more traditional feel, highlighted by Williams’ guitar and Wilson’s work on the 88s.
The pace slows briefly for the introduction to another original, “Widow Of The Blues.” But the pace quickens almost immediately as Williams recounts the words an ex-lover used when she threw him aside. The band then delivers an unusual uptempo version of the Leo Sayer pop hit, “Long Tall Glasses,” set up with a driving guitar line.
A pair of originals follow. The rhythm section kicks off “Why Would Ya?” It’s a plea for a simpler life free of redevelopment, air pollution and speeding traffic. “Long Road To Longwood” is a fast-paced memory of a trip south from Melbourne to the title town, located in the north of Victoria, during which the driver spends time trying to woo the woman at this side.
A faithful version of Hounddog Taylor’s “Give Me Back My Wig” precedes a cover of the Bobby Troupe classic, “Route 66.” It receives a new treatment with a guitar line that sounds straight out the Dire Straits songbook before the band delivers another interpretation of “Spending Time With You” to close.
Long Road To Longwood is a short, high-tempo presentation. Although Willie And The Dixons don’t cut much new ground with this work, they play well and definitely worth a listen. The short disc will leave you wanting more.