Saturday, June 17, 2017

Floyd Dixon Wake Up And Live!

Floyd Dixon
Wake Up And Live!

Rhythm and Blues pioneer Floyd Dixon has been alive and well on the West Coast these years, and with the release of Wake Up and Live! on Alligator, he may start to reap some of the rewards that fellow pioneers Charles Brown and Ruth Brown have garnered in recent years.

The Marshall, Texas native gained fame for his recordings in the late forties and fifties. While he has been compared to Charles Brown, a substantial portion of his repertoire was rockers that were somewhat in the vein of those with which Amos Milburn scored. In fact one of Dixon’s Specialty recordings, Hole in the Wall is a takeoff on Milburn’s Chicken Shack Boogie. Dixon is perhaps known as the composer of Hey Bartender, But that is a somewhat trivial song compared to the other fine rocking blues and blues ballads he waxed in the forties and fifties.

While opening with a remake of Hey Bartender, Wake Up and Live! sports a whole range of material from the menacing slow Mean And Jealous Man, to Rockin’ At Home, another song reminiscent of Milburn’s Chicken Shack Boogie. Unlike Brown, Dixon’s voice shows a hint of wear, but he is also a more overtly expressive vocalist. His playing shows absolutely no deterioration and his producer Port Barlow plays strong idiomatic guitar. While Eddie Synigal is a new name to this writer, he is a booting saxophonist.

While I’ve heard a self-produced album by Dixon that was enjoyable, it did not suggest how powerful a performer he remained. A recipient of the Rhythm and Blues Foundation Pioneer Award several years ago, this album shows that Floyd Dixon is more than capable of recalling past glories, and that the best may even be yet to come. Great stuff.

I likely received a review copy from Alligator Records, and I believe is still available. This review originally appeared in the June 1996 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 212). Here is Floyd (who passed away in 2006) performing.

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