Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Let´s all get Dixie fried

James Luther Dickinson (also known as Jim) likes to stay in the background a bit. If you look solely at his own discography - the guy´s got only seven albums under his belt since 1972 - he doesn´t come across as one of the most productive dudes in the music industry. That´s not at all true though, as Dickinson seems to be recording his own stuff on the side, while regarding his career as an ace sideman and producer as his main claim to fame. Active in the Memphis scene since the mid-sixties, he worked as a session player with Aretha Franklin, Sam & Dave, the Rolling Stones (that´s his piano you hear on Wild Horses), Jason & The Scorchers, Meat Puppets, Primal Scream, Rocket From The Crypt and Bob Dylan (on the great Time Out Of Mind). And that´s just the tip of the iceberg. His production credits include such classic albums as Ry Cooder´s Into The Purple Valley, Big Star´s third album Sister Lovers, Alex Chilton´s Like Flies On Sherbert and the Replacements´ Pleased To Meet Me

From the production manifesto on his website: "A record is a ´totem´, a document of an unique, unrepeatable event worthy of preservation and able to sustain historic life. The essence of the event is its soul. Record production is a subtle, covert activity. The producer is an invisible man. His role remains a mystery. During the recording process there is an energy field present in the studio - to manipulate and to maximize that presence - to focus on the peculiar ´harmony of the moment´ is the job of the producer. Music has a spirit beyond the notes and rhythm. To foster that spirit and to cause it to flourish - to capture it at its peak is the producer's task". Nicely put. More record producers should see their job as such methinks...

 From Dickinson´s own recorded oeuvre, I like his debut the best. Dixie Fried (´72) features an infectious hodgepodge of styles, changing from psychedelic soul to southern rock and boogie to country to New Orleans rhythm and blues and back again. His psychedelic treatment of Dylan´s John Brown is a lot more fun than the ´63 original, with a special mention for the slithering horns. O How She Dances reminds one of Tom Waits in full carny-mode, while the funky title track is pure southern r&b. "Let´s all get Dixie fried!" The credits don´t make it clear, but my guess is that the great Dr. John is behind the piano here. And I guess it must be the nighttripper on Wild Bill Jones as well, as that song sounds straight out of New Orleans. You can buy a copy of Dixie Fried on the Sepia Tone label.

James Luther Dickinson - Dixie Fried MP3
James Luther Dickinson - John Brown MP3
James Luther Dickinson - O How She Dances MP3
James Luther Dickinson - Wild Bill Jones MP3
Bob Dylan - John Brown MP3


tincaveerman@gmail.com said...

With headphones it sounds really great. Complete threedimensional sound!!!

Unknown said...

You forgot two of Jim's contributions to music of the present day. He's the father of Luther and Cody Dickinson of the North Mississippi Allstars.

Ramone666 said...

Good one MRedge, I guess that counts as a contribution too... The new NMA album is said to be very good, too.