Lee Shot Williams
Sometimes you love a record before you’ve heard it. It’s waiting for you, it’s fate, there’s no way around it.
How could I not love this record? It was made for me. If it hadn’t of existed, I’d have had to invent it. It’s got a little bit of everything I love. It’s right there in the title. Country Disco. The two loves of my young life. Sung by the great Lee ‘Shot’ Williams. On a great, overlooked southern soul label. How could I do anything but love this?
I’ve got a pile of records by Lee ‘Shot’ Williams. Each one a classic. Each one a small explosion of southern joy and pain. The first one I bought was I Hurt Myself. Written by country legend Carl Smith and produced by soul legend Syl Johnson, a perfect example of the country/soul marriage. There are other great Williams records; Get Some Order, Our Thing Is Through, It Ain’t Me No More, Baby Baby, but when I found Country Disco, I thought: this one, this fella right here, this was made for me!
I remember a bleak school disco when I was 12 years old, scared of girls and awkward in a crowd, wanting to be anywhere but there, when the DJ saved the night by playing Behind Closed Doors by Charlie Rich and then Rock Your Baby by George McCrae. Country and disco.
When I was 17 and living in New York, fresh off the bus from Texas, in 1979, I fell in love with hip-hop. And the first thing I ever recorded, in New Jersey, six months after I arrived, was a rap song called I’m A Country Boy. A producer who had worked with The Sugar Hill gang told me: this is gonna be huge, a whole new thing, country hip-hop. It was, mercifully, not released.
I remember going to The Paradise Garage for eight hour disco sessions and then walking home at dawn, and to help myself cool down, listening to George Jones and Merle Haggard on my walkman.
In my head Country and Disco have always lived together. And this, by the great Lee ‘Shot’ Williams, is what it sounds like.
Jeb’s new record, Country Hustle, is released on 17 March. Pre-order a copy here.