Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks Beatin' The Heat 2000

Back in 2000, Dan Hicks did an amazing thing when he released this record. It was the perfect come-back, except Hicks had never come the first time. Dan Hicks had some fleeting success in the early seventies, but even his most die hard fans would have to concede that this is his best record. Ever. So not so much a comeback, as a career highlight and defining moment.

The songs are terrific, and Hicks' easy, laid-back, suave and debonair, and hilarious, delivery is perfect. The record opens with My Cello, a uniquely twisted ode to that fine instrument, and a sneaky shuffle of a love song. I Don't Want Love follows, and it's an hilarious song about "if love makes you not want food, I don't want love". It's great. No foolin'. That's followed by an excellent updating of the classic Hot Licks oldie I Scare Myself. The title tune is a pop gem that swings a duet with Bette Midler. He Don't Care is an outrageously funny ode to the wacky tobacky.

And the hits keep on coming. Humming To Myself, Chattanooga Shoe-Shine Boy, I've Got A Capo On My Brain, and Don't Stop The Meter, Mack are all right there in the quality department. And Hick's version of Tom Wait's The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me) is priceless.

The blend of blues, ragtime, vaudeville, folk, swing, and pop is eclectic. It's also all-over-the-map and a bit coy at the same time. But the songs are very good. The production is the best he's ever had. And Hicks himself is both a new man and the same old guy he'd always been. It's fun, and you can dance to some of it. You'll laugh, and you won't have to cry. It is far and away the funniest pop record in the last decade.

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