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Dicky James And The Blue Flames - Hard Rain

Self Release


Just what you would expect from the Midwest, good and sturdy blues. Based in Indiana, but musically traveling through Chicago and Mississippi along with a stopover in “Funk Town”, Dicky and associates dish out a heaping helping of working man’s blues. Dicky leads the guys with his guitar, vocal and songwriting skills, ably bolstered by an ace rhythm section along with organ and harmonica shadings. Mr. James possesses the requisite whiskey-soaked voice to make everything copasetic. The occasional use of a horn section provides an extra kick.

We get two paeans to the blues in “A Real Good Blues” and “We Git To Play”, both taken at a sprightly gait. Right from the git-go the fearless leader’s guitar cuts right through the air and doesn’t let up till this party is over. The former leads in with a snare drum shuffle followed by a heavy bass sound, amped-up harp and organ washes. The latter tune enthuses about the lift they get from playing the blues. The first of two covers, B.B. King’s “Rock Me”, benefits from a driving rhythm push and a refreshing Hammond organ solo courtesy of Johnny “Lightning Boy” Beeson. Dobro-slide is trotted out on “Bulldog Talkin’”, a laid-back country-blues underpinned by a thumping bass drum and Bob “Icehouse” Freeze’s snaky harp playing.

What goes around comes around is the lesson taught within “It’s All True”. Stinging guitar licks fly out like sparks over a tough groove supported by sturdy harp, leading into a cool-jazz organ workout. The title track rides along on a funky guitar-horn riff as the singer berates the listener that “The muddy water gonna wash all over you”. Dicky’s strong vocal here supports the vibe along with his usual out-front guitar skills. In the hands of these cool-customers, the old blues chestnut “Born Under A Bad Sign” sounds born-anew.

The lone instrumental “Icehouse Shuffle” is a chance for its namesake to show the extent of his harmonica prowess, not to mention more strong vocals and axe tricks from our hero. What starts out sounding like the intro to “Somebody Loan Me A Dime”, turns out to be the slow blues vamp of “Low Down Dirty Dog Blues”. More funk is brought to the front in the horn-driven goodness of “Game On”.

“Special To Me’’ stands out like a whore in a nunnery. This must have been a favor owed to a friend. In the midst of all this blues goodness Wes “Dub C” Cox’s dub workout just doesn’t work out. Taken as a separate tune elsewhere, its lilting reggae backdrop has a certain appeal and Dicky manages to interject some blues licks.

The unlisted “Roll the Credits” is just that, as DJ Doc Long recites the credits in his radio-worthy pipes over some more tasty blues riffing. One miscue doesn’t mar the praise worthy musical effort put forth here. Musicianship like this needs to be rewarded. Pick this puppy up and groove to it until the next helping comes along..

Reviewer Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony hails from the New Jersey Delta.

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