What better way to start it back up than with a perfectly thematic title?
Jerry Williams' Gone [Warner Bros. BSK3291, 1979] was crying to me when I picked through the boxes and found it, mostly because of the crazy-ass psychedelic horror cover - a pulsing, technicolor hand with the middle finger missing and replaced by a tick (or aphid? or ladybug?). The back cover ain't too bad, either, lots of freaky hand lettering and weird symbology. Since I'd never heard of the guy, I had no idea what to expect musically. Since it was sealed, I first had to look it up to see if it was worth mad money (can't unseal those big-ticket LPs...).
I found a couple of online reviews of it, but no downloads. Luckily, it only goes for about $5-7 on eBay so I tore into it. Though some of what I read was kind of tepid, I think this is one's a keeper. Jerry was a Texan, a sessionman of great repute, a member of the Leon Russell entourage, friend to Steve Cropper & Duck Dunn (who appear on the Otis Redding cover)... lots of stuff to recommend a spin. I'll let Bill Bentley's excellent bio piece in The Austin Chronicle give you all the info you need. Musically, I don't think that it's hyberbole to call Gone a fusion of Stevie Wonder, Van Morrison, Steve Winwood, Steely Dan... excellent late-70s funky fusion moves, new soul grooves and crunchy guitar workouts. Williams' voice does really recall Stevie's, with a completely authentic blue-eyed soul wail that's equally at home on the grittier rock tracks.
The songwriting is strong throughout - "Giving It Up For Your Love" was even a hit for Delbert McClinton in the early 80s. The catchy pop-soul tunes like "Philosophizer" and "Easy On Yourself" top the list of mostly originals, while the take on "I've Got Dreams To Remember" is maybe the best Otis Redding cover I've heard (not that there are that many, thankfully), where Williams sounds spot-on like Van Morrison. "This Song", the ominous album closer, features Jerry's voice in multiple overdubs on top of a dark synth bed, a la something off of Songs In The Key Of Life.
Though he played with tons of other talented - and huge - names (Little Richard, High Country, Dave Mason, Leon Russell, David Briggs), Williams apparently preferred to hang in the shadows. His only other solo foray is a wildly out-of-print self-released CD called "The Peacemaker", which features Eric Clapton, Mick Fleetwood, Nicky Hopkins, Stevie Ray Vaughan and John Oates. What?!?! This gem, though, was apparently deleted soon after release and has never seen print on CD. Unfortunately, my copy has a slight skip on the first song of Side B, but otherwise is in beautiful shape... so before it's gone again, get Gone while ya can....