Bill Carter: Innocent Victims and Evil Companions Review

Bill Carter is a 50 year veteran of performing and songwriting, which is apparent on Innocent Victims and Evil Companions. Bill Carter and his band “The Blame” released the album in early 2016 and the beautifully designed paper jewel case comes complete with an 8 page booklet giving details about the band and the lyrics of all 14 songs. Over the decade’s Carter has released 9 self produced albums as well as having his songs covered by over 200 artists, from Stevie Ray Vaughan to Waylon Jennings. One time Carter even recorded a now lost tape when he and Keith Richards (Rolling Stones) performed a couple dozen Merle Haggard songs together. Innocent Victims and Evil Companions with its captivating lyrics and tight performances, covers a gamut of styles through 14 original compositions.

Carter’s band includes a dozen different top of the line musicians, like guitarists Charlie Sexton and Denny Freeman from Bob Dylan’s band. Additional guitars were provided by David Holt and Gabriel Rhodes, along with James Stevens on bass. “Eagles” keyboardist, Mike Thompson and Robert Palmer’s drummer Dony Wynn along with fiddler, Richard Bowden, brass/woodwinds player John Mills and the “Tosca String Quartet” are all woven together into a tight ensemble. With the band behind him Carter enters singing like a musical chameleon that is transformed by the harmonic direction of each cut accompanying himself on guitar, bass, percussion and harmonica, while Kimmie Rhodes and Ruth Ellsworth Carter provide backing vocals.

The album leads off with “Black Lion” – The video for the song was the “Winner” at the “Big As Texas Short Film Festival” as the “Best Music Video (for) 2016.” The video is dark and so is the song as it alternates between wailing guitar, jamming instruments and Carter’s nasal voice. After I listened to the album a few times on headphones three songs stuck in my mind, because of the dark humor of the stories from “Missing Guru,” “Bughouse In Pasadena” and “Solar Powered Radio.” Missing Guru” is about a pervert Hindu swami who led his Texas ashram astray and features Charlie Sexton on guitar. Bughouse in Pasadena is about a psychiatric mental hospital in the Southern California city and “Solar Powered Radio,” which is one of many songs that begins with an entertainingly creative intro turning into a stark drum driven psychedelic howl down some lonesome Texas desert highway. “Fisherman’s Daughter” “Moscow Girl” and “Exiled” were all flavored with Southern honky-tonk blues and Caribbean Calypso. “Recipe For Disaster” is a Warren Zevon inspired rant, “They’re making waves across the ocean beneath the turbulent skies hate and greed’s deadly potion no one gets out alive.”

“Lost In A Day” is an anthem and “Last Tear (Delaney’s Song)” is a plaintive and introspective song with a Beatlesque tinge to it. “Feel Town” features Mike Thompson’s keyboards as Carter sings the blues and wails on harmonica reminiscent of “The Band.” “Sooner or Later”  is a Country blues number that Carter belts out singing “If I live to be a hundred you know it’s never too late,” in a style reminiscent of the “Fabulous Thunderbirds.” “Livin’ In It”  is a folk sounding composition reminiscent of Gordon Lightfoot, featuring John Mills on woodwinds and Gabriel Rhodes on slide guitar. The album concludes with a power ballad titled, “No More Runnin'” with the closing line “but you circled the beast, you stared him down, didn’t you?”

The Review: 8.5/10

 Can’t Miss Tracks

– Black Lion
– Missing Guru
– Moscow Girl
– Bughouse In Pasadena
– Solar Powered Radio

The Big Hit

– Black Lion

Review by Bob Gersztyn

Buy the album: Amazon

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