Former drummer for Captain Beefheart's Magic Band, Robert Williams, followed up his debut solo EP with this 1982 full-length. He's still joined by some Zappa/Beefheart sidemen, (e.g.: Bruce Fowler's mighty trombone) but he's deffo moving towards a more commercial New Wave direction here. On side 2 that works just dandy. "Gotta Be Nice," featuring Danny Elfman and two Go-Gos (Charlotte Caffey and Jane Wiedlin), should have been playing out of every store in the Galleria. "Grinding The Gears," featuring Hugh Cornwall of The Stranglers, is likewise killer. The tribal throb of "Hungry" is reminiscent of Adrian Belew's classic "Big Electric Cat."
Side 1 is a bit problematic, however, what with it's blatant Police-isms sounding desperate for KROQ airplay. And William's sometimes corny lyrics (on both sides) can be an issue. And yet, amidst all the late-period Devo synths, hard rock gee-tars, and four-on-the-floor beats (this guy once played Beefheart's notoriously tricky rhythms?) is a wacked-out cover of Beatle George's "Within You Without You," complete with hazy sitar-ish sounds, odd time signatures, and an incongruously funky poppin' bass. You can take the boy out of '70s prog...
Perhaps A&M Records wasn't the suitable label for this album. Or perhaps Williams lacked an outrageous enough personality (and stage name) to make it as a New Wave punker. But whatever the reason, with neither the Freak Scene nor the Valley Girls buying this album, it died a quick death, never getting a digital reissue. My 99 cent used vinyl copy was in great shape. Williams would not make another solo album for many years.
ROBERT WILLIAMS "Late One Night"