Dan Hicks is back again, crisscrossing genres with his usual unusual blend of songs. His fans have come to expect the unexpected in Dan’s music and they won’t be disappointed with this enjoyable set. He creates music that sounds contemporary yet would sound natural coming off of a scratched-up 78. The current line-up of the Hot Licks include original member Sid Page on violin, bassist Tony Garnier, who is best known for his work with Bob Dylan, and legendary session drummer Jim Keltner.
Hicks a musician’s musician, which is evident from the impressive line-up of guests he has gathered once again. They include trumpeter Jack Sheldon, Jimmy Buffet and Gibby Haynes, who literally phones in his vocals during a collect call from the Antelope Wells exit on Interstate 10 in a hysterical mix of “That Ain’t Right.”
While most of the songs are upbeat toe-tappers, Hicks slows things down for a few numbers. When Willie Nelson joins Dan on “One More Cowboy,” the songs reminds me of singing cowboys riding along during a scene from an old Gene Autry movie. The music includes the familiar whistling sounds of a harmonica that anyone who has seen a western will remember. Another mellow selection is “Cue the Violins,” a wonderful tune that is parts Antonio Carlos Jobim and Django Reinhardt.
His off-kilter sense of humor is the common thread that runs through Hicks’ work. During “Hey Bartender,” while he sings the part of a man who wants to borrow a bartender’s car, The Lickettes sing a humorous counter-point, commenting on the story as it goes. They provide a similar function during “Barstool Boogie.” The remake of Rosemary Clooney’s “C’mon-A-My House” is very funny when he runs down the list of items that he’s using to entice the object of his desire.
“First I Lost My Marbles” is just plain weird. The Lickettes have very odd-sounding vocals and there’s a strange back and forth between Brunella and Egbert, the couple who have recently broken-up in the song. It would fit perfectly on the Dr. Demento show, which is still available on XM Radio.
The album might be too much for some listeners with its mix of genres and the bizarre humor of the lyrics, but I enjoyed it immensely, and it would be great for youngsters. No one does it like Hicks and I doubt if anyone could.