Dickerson's long championed nostalgic sounds of rock, surf and hillbilly, first as a member of The Untamed Youth, later with the Dave & Deke combo, and for the past several years as the guitar-slinging leader of his own band, Ecco-Fonics. This time out he pursues rockabilly, hillbilly and the R&B roots of rock 'n' roll in three separate sessions with three different line-ups. Had these tracks actually been waxed in the '50s (rather than just aching to have been) they would have arrived on 7" EPs in cardboard sleeves. The disc opens with three new rock 'n' roll tunes accompanied by covers of the Four Nights' doo-wop "I Get So Lonely" and Charlie Rich's "Sittin' & Thinkin'." Dickerson's guitar takes a backseat to the Ron Dziubla's wailing saxophones, and the barrelhouse and boogie-woogie piano of Carl Sonny Leyland, with legendary New Orleans drummer Earl Palmer anchoring the session. Palmer's driving beats and second-line cadences are as moving here as they were on the seminal recordings of Little Richard, Fats Domino and many others.
Five rockabilly sides, recorded as a three-piece with stand-up bass and drums, put Dickerson's guitar up front, with a flat-picked train rhythm on Johnny Horton's "Take the Long Way Home," and Link Wray distortion on Rodney Scott's obscure B-side croon, "Bitter Tears." The rhythm section rocks and rolls while Dickerson piles on the twang.
The disc closes with a septet of hillbilly tune, including titles made famous by Faron Young and Merle Travis. The band features the guitar-and-steel duo of Dave Biller and Jeremy Wakefield, who've previously appeared together with Wayne Hancock. The swing and boogie rhythms of Joe "Cannonball" Lewis' "You've Been Honky Tonkin'" and Dickerson's own "Knoxville Boogie" come around full-circle to the R&B tunes that open the disc, neatly sewing together the project's three sets. A hidden bonus track features Biller and Wakefield tearing up Bob Wills' "Fat Boy Rag," with the versatile Dickerson blowing bass saxophone!
Conceived as three separate sets, these sessions meld into a single celebration of the fine differences and shared histories of interrelated genres. Dickerson's at the top of his game across the board, trading in his penchant for novelty tunes in favor of a sophisticated and sly sense of humor, and gathering around him musicians that rock, swing and twang like a latter day Commander Cody's Lost Planet Airmen. MC