Album Reviews

Music You Don't Know You Like Yet

DICKY JAMES AND THE BLUE FLAMES

Hard Rain

2012-01-06

Nick's Picks: 06 It's All True; 07 Low Down Dirty Dog Blues; 11 We Git To Play;

FCC ALERT: ("nothing here)"

Review by Steven "Nick" Nickelson of Dicky James and the Blue Flames Hard Rain :

The band opens with an original blues tune. It has a catchy beat, good lyrics, but the arranger should have left out the electric organ, as it adds nothing to the song. The selections get progressively better, though. Track two (“Hard Rain”) tones down the organ, amps up the rest of the instruments, and makes the song virtually jump. From there we slow down the pace for an delta blues style cover of a B.B. King song (“Rock Me”) including an excellent harmonica contribution by Bob “Icehouse” Freeze); however, we are again “treated” to some more 1-chord organ playing, which (IMHO) muffles the gritty playing and singing of an otherwise excellent song. “Bulldog Talkin'” sounds kinda like an old juke joint song – complete with what sounds like an old National Resonator for the guitar parts – and well-played, I might add. From there, the band slows back down to some more delta-influenced music (“It's All True”), as well as a couple of inspired solos (guitar, harm onical, organ). I have to admit that Dicky James surely represents the blues lifestyle in his songwriting and lyrics. So many excellent bands have covered “Born Under A Bad Sign” that it wouldn't be fair to compare this band's interpretation; however, they do a favorable job of covering it. Another turn at delta blues with the next song (“Low Down Dirty Dog Blues”) exemplifies this band's talents in this genre – and the organ actually makes an excellent accompaniment on this well-written song by Dicky James (Wagster). On this disk's only instrumental cut we are treated to an outstanding harmonica solo, as well as a very tightly controlled contribution by the rest of the band – definitely one for the record books! One of the very few jump (boogie) blues cuts, “Game On” highlghts the bands' versatility, as well as Dicky James' writing chops. The next cut (“Special To Me”) just threw me for a curve. At first I thought that perhaps someone accidentally patched in a rap/reggae song – nothing like the rest of the cd; however, when I checked the label I found it was definitely a part of the cd. It is just so differen from the rest of the cuts that my only comment is that the inclusion here is simply a mystery. The very last song on this cd – another jump blues song (“We Git To Play”) is one of the best representations of the jump (boogie) genre, and Mr. James & company really strut their stuff here. Although I don't know if I would go see this band live, I do strongly recommend purchasing this band's premier cd.. And that's my two nickels' worth.......................Nick

ARTIST BIO:

Richard “Dicky James” Wagster was born in 1956 in Gary, IN and raised in Calumet City, IL. As a boy Dicky watched his older brother, Bear, play guitar and immediately fell in love. At age 12 he got his first guitar, a Stella acoustic, and began learning by ear from whatever blues and Motown records he could pick up. He was finally on the way when his brother brought him his first electric from the px in Vietnam. Around age 18 he began performing in clubs from coast to coast and opening for numerous major recording artists. In 1994 he relocated to the Wabash Valley where, in 2008, he and rest of the boys formed Dicky James and the Blue Flames.

The Musicians:

・ Dicky James Wagster – songwriter, vocals, guitar

・ Bob “Icehouse” Freeze – electric harmonica, sax

・ John “Lightning Boy” Beeson – Hammond Organ, vocals

・ Mark “P Funk” Ford – bass, arranger

・ Will Cox – drums, percussion

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Compiled by the WYCE Journalism Club

The opinions expressed in these reviews are those of the individual volunteers that submitted the article and do not necessarily reflect the views of WYCE or GRCMC; nor its staff, donors, or affiliates.