Rocktober Day 27: Wet Willie - Keep On Smilin'


Words: TaperCraig from the land of KICK ASS!

Capricorn Records.

It deserves its own sentence.

Capricorn records was not just a record label but a shining beacon calling in adrift rockers from the seas of the disposable sounds that would become disco.  Any of us whelped in the South (capital “S”) in the 70’s no doubt nourished ourselves at the teet of Capricorn Records. If you’re not following along, let me try it this way. If you saw the movie “Dazed and Confused” and thought “that’s exactly f@#king what it was like in high school” then Capricorn Records was the label for you.

Capricorn’s line up featured The Allman Brothers, The Marshall Tucker Band, Elvin Bishop, Jonathan Edwards, and, in a later, second incarnation, Widespread Panic and Col. Bruce Hampton and the Aquarium Rescue Unit.  Hidden among those venerable titans was a group of boys from Mobile, Alabama that called themselves Wet Willie.

Wearing their Southern blues and white boy soul influences on their sleeves -- and prone to album titles “dripping” with that beloved form of male sexual innuendo, including Drippin’ Wet and The Wetter the Better – the band produced an ear pleasing mash of musical spirits. The band’s fourth album, released on Capricorn in 1974 also shared the name of the band’s only Top 10 Hit, "Keep On Smilin’." Friends, this is party music for people who like to drink their Jim Beam out of the bottle and shake their ass to the sweet soul music that in bygone days oozed out of the hallowed halls of Muscle Shoals.

The album opens with a rollicking “Country Side of Life” that extols the many virtues of life in a small Southern town.

Next up is the band’s certified Money Song, “Keep on Smilin’”  Who can’t identify with those iconic lyrics “Yeah you're 'bout to go insane, 'Cause your woman's playin' games, And she says that you're to blame, Just keep on smilin'”  That, my friends, is sage advice not to be ignored..

“Soul Sister”, “Spanish Moss” and “Lucy Was In Trouble” all give good examples of the band’s deft collage of soul, blues and unadulterated Southern rock. The one departure is the slow acoustic ballad “Alabama” which is sure to mellow out even the most avid meth user.

Good? Bad? Who gives a f@#@! It's all rock and roll AND WE LIKE IT!


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