Andre Williams – Jail Bait

 

 

Rarely in the thrusting groin of rock ‘n’ roll’s highways and byways is a song released that could be symbiotically considered a dripping wet patch of sleaze whilst simultaneously displaying the gleam of a community service program fitting for an after school special. Enter ‘Jail Bait’, brought to you courtesy of “Mr. Rhythm” himself, Andre Williams.

Recorded and released in 1956 for Detroit’s Fortune Records, ‘Jail Bait’, via the conduit of Williams’ sequence of poor life choices regarding females of a schoolgirl persuasion, loudspeakers an ominous word of advice… “15, 16, 17, that’s jailbait.”

And therein lies the genius of Mr. Williams. Y’see, for that small minority of humans that will inevitably stray, those too brick-headed to decipher clear and concise messages of cultural importance, Uncle Andre has a magical way of sitting you on his knee and drumming home the mantra; through utter sleaze-ball humour.

The beginning of the track portrays a man figuratively walking the plank in readiness for his court date. He’s been busted fraternising with the underaged and is clearly as guilty as sin. Thus, one could very easily be forgiven for despising this man right from the get-go. But as his words continue, amid an underlay of 1950’s Las Vegas strip club horns, piano and jungle drums, the remorse comes marching in. And it’s genuine! So much so that after a judge-appeasing crocodilian display of tears and lip-quiver, the protagonist even convinces himself that perhaps a more life-experienced woman of 42 would be a much wiser choice for such lascivious activities. He’s a man transformed.

What’s great about this song is that it’s raw as all hell. Laid to bare on a one-track recorder -essentially a mic and tape reel in the middle of the studio- ‘Jail Bait’s’ sound is as stripped back as it is uneven. But it works! With Andre’s monologue taking pride of place and slightly dominating the sexual suggestiveness of the soundtrack, the listener can almost sniff the primitive and technologically pure conditions of the recording session; a session which yielded other infamous Andre Williams classics like ‘My Tears’ and an early outtake of perhaps his most well-known track ‘Bacon Fat’.

So, re-twist the copper strands on your vintage Wharfedales, dust off the old Philips radiogram, and set yourself down for 3 minutes and 26 seconds of sage advice from a surrogate uncle that has gone through all the bad stuff, just so you don’t have to.

Remember kids, “17 and a half is still jail bait.”

 

 

 

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Benny Two-Shoes

Filling the void between grouchy dinosaurism and current day hipster snobbery, Benny Two-Shoes is the type of guy who kidnaps control of the stereo at sweet sixteen parties and does not relinquish until every last teenybopper leaves a fully-fledged Stooges fan.   

You can listen to the latest episodes, hosted by Benny Two-Shoes, on Roadkill Radio!

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