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Published: 2002/01/23
by Chris Gardner

Laugh – Keller Williams

SCI Fidelity 1011

Keller Williams doesn't want your head. He is not aiming for your heart.
Keller Williams wants your belly and your backside. More specifically, he
wants your booty shaking loose and your belly convulsing with a laughter
that waters your eyes and turns your face red. Keller Williams gets what
he wants.

He tattoos you with indelible images. Keller grabbing the startled Bob
Barker in a bear hug and squeezing with all his might. Keller, President
of the Roadside Alligator Liberation Front, knifing through the waterways
with a grateful but still vicious gator nipping at his heels. The
Williams' dogs "draped in diamonds", the just desserts of his game show
dominance. Freakboy the Human Dreidel whirling like a dervish beside the
stage, and – of course – the 90 mph ragers in the second floor dancehall of
the
Double-decker-Doublewide.

These images might fade with time were it not for his impeccable phrasing.
The "tweaker right by the speaker" is the "rave-girl with a lollipop binky
and a face full of metal." He imagines himself in "the movie Rollerball"
as he darts through the off season pedestrian traffic of Virginia Beach,
"zinging by all that blue hair." Keller struts onto the set of the "Price
is Right" when, "the voice of an angel that belonged to Rod Roddy," drops
his name in dulcet tones.

"One Hit Wonder" tells a familiar tale of, "a simple little ditty with a
sharp catchy hook and three little cowboy chords that you learn from a
book" that captures the nation's earmagination. It is a wild ride for the
scribe as, "the record label mafia is putting on the heat." The words grab
and hold on, evoking the titters of laughter long after the images have lost
their shiny luster.

Keller's guitar hits like a billy club, stunning you with a disorientingly
dense stack of licks and rhythms. Tye North and Dave Watts temper the
madness, locking down a rock solid groove that provides complement,
contrast, and context for the flurry of notes. Watts, the "Human
Metronome", sets crisp beats at the heart of these tracks, especially
"Alligator Alley" and "Vabeeotchay" where his shuffle and snap paces the
action. The rhythm section provides the fulcrum on which the Keller show
turns, but this is still very clearly the Keller show.

The songs themselves are smooth and hook heavy, easy grooves with surprising
strata beneath. Keller's multi-purpose pie hole still spits out faux
beatbox, mouthflugel, and a convincing turn as a didgeridoo.

Keller is clearly at his best with his sights on the funny bone. The only
comic misstep might be "Gallivanting", which is nothing more than an
alliterative exercise over a walking bass line. While his take on Michael
Hedges' "Spring Buds" is too airy to hold water, his spare rendering of Ani
Difranco's "Freakshow", just his own layered voice over some excellent hand
drum slapping and finger snapping, shines. In a third tribute, "Hunting
Charlie" finds Keller chasing after that elusive Charlie Hunter groove with
electric guitar in hand.

Producing himself, Keller fills all available space without over packing the
suitcase. "Freaker Reprise", the album's sixteen plus minute return to the
opener, segues seamlessly from a studio continuation of "Freaker By The
Speaker" into a looped, solo live performance. Once the song ends and
Keller has said his goodbyes, the house music rises, and it is a "Freaker"
jam recorded live in the studio. This comprises the albums only true shot
to the head, and even here he playfully shakes your brain around and sits
back to chuckle to himself.

The cover art consists of hundreds of photos of friends, family, and
scattered
items arranged to comprise an image of Keller's laughing face and maw from
a distance, much like the Marilyn Monroe magazine cover of years gone by.
All the images are joyous, a gallery of "things that make me happy", and
their spirit reflects the contents. This is a big grin of an album, meant
only to spread smiles. There is no depth of emotion. There are no
foundational thoughts lurking between the lines. There is no gravity here.

But he is not aiming for your heart. Keller Williams doesn't want your
head.

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