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Willie King: Freedom Creek

Guitarist-singer-songwriter Willie King is more than just another rollicking house-rocker. Part bluesman, part preacher, part political activist, he imparts important lessons about human rights and brotherhood in his thoughtful lyrics on Freedom Creek while laying down heavy-duty, juke-joint grooves with his band, The Liberators. In a raspy, Howlin’ Wolfish voice, King delivers politically tinged protest songs like “Second Coming,” “Uncle Tom,” “Stand Up and Speak the Truth,” “Clean Up the Ghetto” and “The Sell-Out” with powerful deep-blues authority. Recorded live to two-track at Bettie’s Place, a country juke joint in Prairie Point, Mississippi, King’s self-described “struggling songs for the working people” are as hypnotic, hard-hitting and controversial as Fela Kuti’s Afrobeat protest songs or Bob Marley’s politically tinged, socially conscious reggae tunes, offering listeners a large dose of reality along with foot-pattin’ pleasure. As a bonus track, King delivers striking spoken-word testimony about the ways of life on the plantation and the nature of the blues. This one is as intriguing and relevant as it is infectious.

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