Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks

Tangled Tales

Surfdog

hicksThree studio albums into his 21st-century comeback, Hicks is squarely in the groove. Taken as a whole, the melodies, lyrics, vocals and musicianship on “Tales” are nearly as good as on 1972’s “Striking It Rich,” arguably the artistic zenith for his heady mixture of good-time/old-time swing, folk, country and jazz with a lyrical dose of wry humor that never fails to bring a smile.

From 1978’s “It Happened One Bite” to 2000’s “Beatin’ the Heat,” Hicks’ only release was 1994’s “Shootin’ Straight” with the Acoustic Warriors, from which he reprises five numbers here: “Who Are You,” “Savin’ My Lovin’,” “The Rounder,” “13-D” and “A Magician.”

Given that “Shootin’ Straight” is out of print, and since it was kind of botched by the unnecessary addition of studio drums (unless you were lucky enough to get the pre-official version from Hicks at one of his shows), it’s nice to hear those tracks rerecorded, some even guest-embellished by Charlie Musselwhite’s chromatic harmonica, Roy Rogers’ slide guitar and Richard Greene’s violin.

Guests on the rest of the disc include mandolinist David Grisman, guitarist Bruce Forman and accordionist Austin deLone, as well as Musselwhite, Rogers and Greene again. Hicks (who sings lead and plays rhythm) and a core group of two female backup singers, lead guitar, string bass, violin and drums comprise the classic Hot Licks lineup.

The four cover songs are “The Blues My Naughty Baby Gave to Me” aka “Blues (My Naughty Sweetie Gives to Me),” a 1919 fox-trot that later became a Dixieland standard whose list of ways to get the blues has been expanded over the years to 17; “Song for My Father” (vocal version), the Horace Silver composition to which Ellen May Sashoyan added words in 1969 for Leon Thomas; the 1912 hit “Ragtime Cowboy Joe,” which Hicks tagged silly lyrics onto at the end; and Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” the perfect vehicle for  his rapid-fire vocal delivery.

The scat-singing title track and “Let It Simmer,” a laid-back lounge piece replete with strings and a whistling interlude, round out the set.gnm_end_bug

Tracks
1. Who Are You?
2. The Diplomat
3. Savin’ My Lovin’
4. The Blues My Naughty Baby Gave To Me
5. Song For My Father
6. The Rounder
7. 13-D
8. Ragtime Cowboy Joe
9. A Magician
10. Subterranean Homesick Blues
11. Tangled Tales
12. Let It Simmer!

Total time: 49:51

External links
artists’ website
amazon.com
iTunes Store

Tags: , , , , , ,

No Comments »

Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks

Selected Shorts

Surfdog

That’s Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks, not to be confused with Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks. They are two different groups — the latter having finished its four-album career in 1973, and the former releasing its debut in 2000.

“Shorts,” the studio follow-up to the turn-of-the-century “Beatin’ the Heat,” finds Dan the Man up to his old tricks but with some new dogs. Old tricks in the sense that he’s dusted off songs he’s either written, started to write, thought about writing or covered over the years but never got around to recording, with the result being a continuation of the His Hot Licks sound and probably his best album since that era. New dogs in the sense that the new-millennium Hot Licks are an ever-changing band, this time featuring Tony Garnier (Bob Dylan) on bass, Jim Keltner on drums, original member Sid Page on violin and up-and-coming guitarist Gonzalo Bergara.

Manhattan Transfer’s Tim Hauser helps out with production, and guests include Willie Nelson, Jimmy Buffett, Van Dyke ParksGibby Haynes and Jack Sheldon. Ray Benson and Gary Hoey do some spot production, and Hoey also plays guitar a little and does some engineering.

Tracks
1. Mama’s Boy Blues
2. That’s Where I Am
3. Hey Bartender
4. Willie
5. One More Cowboy
6. Barstool Boogie
7. C’Mon-A-My House
8. First I Lost My Marbles
9. That Ain’t Right
10. Cue The Violins
11. I’ll See You In My Dreams
12. Texas Kinda Attitude
13. That’s The Smoke They’re Blowin’
14. That Ain’t Right (Gibby Phones It In mix)

Total time: 52.2 minutes

External Links
artist’s website
amazon.com
iTunes Store

Tags: , , , ,

No Comments »

Sam Bush

King of My World

Sugar Hill Records

From his kickoff bluegrass-flavored instrumental, to the western swing finale immortalizing baseball’s Ozzie Smith, mandolinist Bush provides sheer musical joy on his fifth solo album.

In between those self-penned tunes are songs by Keb’ Mo’Grandpa JonesJeff BlackJohnny Clegg and Ed Snodderly, with three more originals thrown in, two of them instrumentals.

Besides mandolin, the founding member of the late great New Grass Revival plays a mean banjo, fiddle, slide guitar and even slide mandolin. But don’t think his eclecticism stops there: while bluegrass threads run through each track, the artist incorporates blues, folk, jazz, world and country elements into various selections.

Special guests include keyboardist Reese Wynans, of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble.

Tracks
1. Puppies ‘N Knapsacks
2. A Better Man
3. Eight More Miles To Louisville
4. They’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone
5. Bananas
6. King Of The World
7. Spirit Is The Journey
8. Majestic
9. Bless His Heart
10. The Mahavishnu Mountain Boys
11. The Wizard Of Oz

Total time: 49.9 minutes

External Links
artist’s website
amazon.com
iTunes Store

Tags: , , , , ,

No Comments »