Dicky James and the Blue Flames hail from Terre Haute, Indiana. James' real name is Richard Wagster, but Dicky James is obviously a better blues name. By any name, though, on Hard Rain Dicky James and the Blues Flames deliver delightful urban contemporary blues. Nine of its songs are original, and there are two covers, a gritty take on B.B. King's "Rock Me" and a rocking take on "Born Under A Bad Sign."
The nine originals show real talent and diversity. "Real Good Blues" is a blues-rocker in praise of the joy the blues can bring. "Hard Rain" benefits from a solid wall of sound delivered by The Blue Flames with some powerful harp soaring over a funky guitar beat.
"Bulldog Talkin'," quite a long story at six-and-a-half minutes long, is probably my favorite song on the album. I love its sly humor, as Dicky explains how his girl comes "shakin' her fingers, pokin' that big head out at me."
"Reap What You Sow" is a very traditional blues with great interaction between a hot lead guitar and a soaring harp. The message is the classic one, that the person you help today may be the person you'll need tomorrow. "Low Down Dirty Dog Blues" features fantastic Hammond organ from Johnny "Lightning Bug" Beeson, which sets the perfect tone for James' vocals on this blues lament.
Every great blues CD needs a really fantastic instrumental, and on this one that number is "Ice House Shuffle." These guys are real musicians and they all get to show their stuff on this song. The tight horn section gives "Game On" that great New Orleans sort of sound, and James' lyrics and vocals suit that style well.