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February/March 2017

Lil' Ed and the Blues Imperials
The Big Sounds of Lil' Ed and the Blues Imperials
Alligator Records

Lil Ed

Lil’ Ed and the Blues Imperials has always been a favorite of mine and I often think of that time in Barbados when he tore up the stage as part of the afternoon party’s entertainment. He’s back with a new record on Alligator, aptly titled, The Big Sounds of Lil’ Ed and the Blues Imperials. It features 12 all new tunes from Lil’ Ed plus a couple written by his uncle, J. B. Hutto. The disc rocks, so let’s give it a listen.

The band starts out with “Giving Up on Your Love,” and Ed’s guitar echoes the frustration he’s feeling with the woman in his life. Enough is enough and he’s ready to move on. “You lie all the time…swear that you’re mine…you ripped out my heart…ground it under your shoes…I’m giving up on you.” Ed’s frustrations with this woman are justified, and it’s good that he’s saying goodbye to her in a hurry.

“Raining in Paris” continues this theme of goodbye as Ed laments the woman who just walked out of his life. “Well, it’s raining in Paris…it’s raining at the Louvre…it’s raining at the café where I first met you…when it’s raining in’s raining everywhere.” Don’t know why she left, but the weather is changing just by virtue of the tears falling from Lil’ Ed’s eyes, and I hope he finds a new love soon. Our topic changes as Lil’ Ed deals with survival in “Poor Man’s Song.” “I walk the streets…day by day…I take any job…for any pay…wish I had all the money I’ve spent…seems the pawnbroker is my only friend…all my money’s gone…I stand on the corner…singing the poor man’s song.” Ed’s down on his luck and nobody wants to hear it, so he’s going to have to pull himself out of what have been very hard times.

“Shy Voice” is our next track and for some reason, Lil’ Ed just can’t seem to bring himself to talk to this girl, he’s just overcome by her sheer beauty and it seems to render him speechless. “You’ve got me walking and talking…making love to you in my sleep…I got a love feel for your honey…temperature of 103…but when I call your name…sounds all in your face…every time I reach out…hardship and loving’s in my face…you’re so sweet.” Lil’ Ed never makes the connection and we move on to “Black Diamond Love.” Ed’s found another woman he’s interested in and this one sounds like it should work. “You fell in my arms, baby…and parachute too…that black diamond love…turned out to be you.” The gods have smiled down on Lil’ Ed and brought him a gem of a woman to love.

Up next is “Whiskey Flavored Love” and it’s a tune written by Ed with his wife Pam. “Drinking and crying…tell you I was feeling mighty low…woke up this morning…with whiskey flavored tears on my pillow.” Lil’ Ed’s woman is cheating on him and the tears on his pillow reflect the alcohol he drank the night before. It’s definitely time for her to go. “I’ll Cry Tomorrow” is a tune that J.B. wrote and Lil’ Ed’s fretwork leads the way as he tackles his uncle’s tune. “I’m going to help you pack your suitcase…not because I’m big hearted…I played a losing hand…I’ll forever be broken hearted…and I’ll always be alone…this night…I’ll drown in my sorrows…turning my heart…I’ll cry tomorrow.” This relationship has come to an end and the best thing that Lil’ Ed can do is to just let her walk away.

Our next track, “Is It You,” still finds Lil’ Ed in conflict with the woman he loves. “Is it me…staring up at the sky…is it me, baby…believing in a lie…is it me, baby…or is it you?” There’s definitely trouble in Lil’ Ed’s house, but hopefully they can work it out and move forward with their love for each other. There comes a time though when a man’s had enough, and Lil’ Ed talks about here in “I’m Done.” “When you’re walking through my mind…you won’t even cast a shadow…I tell you I’m done…now go.” It’s probably not a good idea to let your man see you through the window with someone else, and I can’t blame Lil’ Ed for having had enough grief with this one.

“Deep in My Soul” is probably the closest thing to a ballad we’ll hear on Lil’ Ed’s disc, and I’m appreciating Sumito “Ariyo” Arisyoshi’s keyboards in the background of this song. “Your love…is deep in my soul…I’m going to be with you…right now and forever more.” Lil’ Ed’s more than willing to put the work in to make sure that everything works the way it’s supposed to and I’m happy for him. “I Want it All” is another tune written by Ed and Pam, and I like the back end from the rhythm section of Pookie Young on bass and Kelly Littleton on drums. Lil’ Ed wants nothing but total commitment from the woman he loves and you can’t fault him for that. “My appetite is big…my stature may be small…some may call it greedy…but I only want it all.” Lil’ Ed’s a proud man and he deserves nothing less.

Our next cut, “I Like My Hot Sauce Cold,” is the tongue-in-cheek track that we’ve come to expect from Lil’ Ed. “I like my barbecue hot…and my hot sauce cold.” Ed loves to cook and he’s more than happy to share the way he grills with the world. Lil’ Ed’s fretwork reflects the somber mood intended on “Troubled World.” “We’ve got so…so much trouble…trouble in this world today…it might be coming to an end…that’s what the Good Book says.” The world today is not the world of our youth, and unfortunately it’s reflected in our society today and the way it acts. It’s a troubled world indeed and Lil’ Ed’s wise to notice and comment on it.

“Green Light Groove” is the final track on Lil’ Ed’s record and the band is on fire. “I’m in the green light groove…I’m in the green light groove…everything is going my way.” Lil’ Ed’s on a roll and there’s nothing but good luck happening for him with everything he touches.

Hard to believe the band’s been together for over 27 years and still going strong. Lil’ Ed’s songwriting is as good as ever; the band sounds great live and isn’t missing a step along the way. The Big Sound of Lil’ Ed & the Blues Imperials is their ninth record for Alligator and they’ll probably be around for nine more. Best seen live, you can find more out about Lil’ Ed’s touring schedule on the Alligator website,, and if you’re not an “Ed Head” you should be.

--- Kyle Deibler



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