September 25, 2023
Floyd Dixon – Fine! Fine! Thing!

Floyd Dixon – Fine! Fine! Thing!

Blue Heart Records

12 songs – 46 minutes

Fine! Fine! Thing!, Floyd Dixon’s penultimate release, originally came out in 2005 but has been re-released by Blue Heart Records and what a joy it is to hear it again. Born in 1929 in Marshall, Texas, Dixon is one of the legends of West Coast blues, releasing records in the 1940s and 1950s such as “Telephone Blues” and “Call Operator 210” that helped to define the entire genre. He is perhaps most well-known for “Hey Bartender” after its adoption by The Blues Brothers exposed the song to a wider audience. His influence however has been lasting and formidable.

Backed by a crack band featuring Richard Ross and Stoney Dixon on bass, Hense Powell on Hammond B3, Craig Kimbrough and Johnny Tucker on drums, Tony Matthews on guitar, together with the Ebony Horns (comprising Joe Campbell, Carle Vickers and Bernard Baisden) on a few tracks, Dixon’s piano playing was undiminished by age and his voice – that voice! – still sounded part-Big Joe Turner, part-Charles Brown, and part-hewn from rock as old as time itself.  Candye Kane contributes to the fun, in a duet with Dixon on “Love’s The Key” and adding glorious gospel backing vocals to “My Wish”.

Dixon wrote all the songs, ranging from the swinging “Carmen De Lavalade”, to the instrumental “Cottontail” and the slow blues of “Think About The Good Times”. The band is tight but loose and sound like they are having an absolute blast.

There is something of a relaxed, late-night feel to the recording, as if the listener has just wondered into a dark and smokey bar where Dixon and his cohorts have been playing for several hours already. Perhaps surprisingly, Dixon does not take as many piano solos as one might expect, with Matthews’ warm tone and tasty guitar playing to the fore, often weaving skittish, jazzy, ear-catching single note lines around Dixon’s vocals, such as on “Ain’t That Right” or the tasty opener, “Love Oh Love”. The instrumental “Floyd’s Groove” is all Dixon, however, and is great and his solo on “Everything’s Alright” is a joy.

Recorded at Leon Hayward’s Sunnyside Recording Studios in Los Angeles, the sound quality is excellent, so kudos Bill Dashiell and Bill Dooley for their engineering, mixing and mastering skills.

From traditional, slow blues to upbeat R&B, all with a West Coast sensibility, Dixon created a sound and style that has influenced many but been surpassed by none. Fine! Fine! Thing! is difficult to listen to without a smile on your face and is well-worth repeated plays.

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