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James Luther Dickinson 1941 – 2009

Posted by Whitmore, August 19, 2009 05:02pm | Post a Comment

The legendary Memphis musician, producer, and raconteur James Luther Dickinson died this past Saturday in a Memphis hospital after complications following triple bypass heart surgery; he was 67. Dickinson played with the likes of Aretha Franklin, Ry Cooder and The Rolling Stones and helped shape what would be called the Memphis Sound, a gritty blend of gospel, country and southern blues. Though never exactly a household name, Dickinson is one those great cult figures in musical history whose life and stories were bigger than the times themselves.
 
Jim Dickinson was born November 15, 1941 in Little Rock, Arkansas. His family moved to Memphis, Tennessee in 1949. He signed his first recording contract right out of high school with Rubin Cherry's Home of the Blues. Later Dickinson recorded for Sam Phillips' Sun label; he sang lead vocals on the last record ever released on Sun, "Cadillac Man" by The Jesters. Starting in about 1965 he began working as a session player in the Memphis studios, joining Charley Freeman, Tommy McClure, and Sammy Creason in the rhythm section that would become know as the Dixie Flyers. They went on to be the house band at Atlantic Records' Criteria Recording Studio in Miami, Florida in the early '70s, backing artists like Aretha Franklin, Sam & Dave, Jerry Jeff Walker, Ronnie James Luther Dickinson, Dixie FriedMilsap, Kris Kristofferson, Carmen McCrae and Maria Muldaur.
 
He played piano on the Rolling Stones' classic "Wild Horses" and even appeared in the documentary film of the Stones, Gimme Shelter. Dickinson also played piano on The Flamin' Groovies masterpiece Teenage Head. He went on to be Ry Cooder's sidekick; touring, playing keyboards and co-producing some of Cooder’s soundtracks such as Paris, Texas, The Long Riders, and Crossroads. Dickinson's career as a producer got kick started working with Big Star, the pioneering Memphis power pop band, producing one of the most influential albums from the 1970s, Third/Sister Lovers (NME magazine ranked it #1 as the most heartbreaking album ever recorded). His production work with Big Star led to other gigs, sometimes under the moniker East Memphis Slim. In the 1970’s and 80’s Dickinson produced the likes of The Replacements (Dickinson always said he learned more from them than they learned from him), Jason & the Scorchers, Green on Red, The Radiators, Mojo Nixon, Chris Stamey, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Mudhoney, Alex Chilton, Toots Hibbert (of the Maytals), The Texas Tornados, Steve Forbert, G. Love & Special Sauce, Joe "King" Carrasco, Flat Duo Jets, Tav Falco, and many others. As a session musician, he's worked with Los Lobos, Primal Scream, Poi Dog Pondering, Arlo Guthrie, Willy DeVille, Esther Phillips, Delaney and Bonnie, Petula Clark, Rocket From the Crypt, and Bob Dylan (Dylan acknowledged him as a “brother” while accepting the Grammy award for 1997’s Time Out of Mind, and once said, "If you've got Dickinson, you don't need anybody else.").
 
One of my all-time favorite records is Dickinson's first solo album, released in 1972 on Atlantic and entitled Dixie Fried. This soulful yet wonderfully cockeyed, twisted and loopy album has become a cult classic. He dubbed the genre “world boogie.” Dixie Fried was one of those records that disappeared without a trace upon initial release, only to be rediscovered years later. Originally recorded in 1970, the out there in left-field amalgamation of country, R&B, soul, and rock finds Dickinson mostly covering other artist’s material, but everything he touches shimmers with that cool and greasy Memphis groove -- probably why Atlantic Records saw it unfit for public consumption for a couple of years. By the time it came out, Dickinson was off touring with Ry Cooder and had no time nor desire to promote the album. Dickinson said that by mid 70’s he was seriously hated over at Atlantic records. They tried pushing him out the door, giving him what was referred to as "the Jesse Ed Davis treatment," or to quote Jerry Wexler, "right down the old pipe, baby." For years Dixie Fried circulated around the underground, developing a extraordinary following. But as far as Atlantic was concerned, the album’s notoriety was surely due to some bizarre bayou voodoo; the label kept its distance. Finally in 2002 it was re-released on CD by Sepia Tone Records.
 
Last month, Jim Dickinson was relocated to a rehabilitation facility; doctors had hoped for an eventual recovery. His death comes only a week after a benefit concert and tribute was held in Memphis at The Peabody Skyway to raise money for escalating medical bills. Performers at the benefit included John Hiatt, Jimmy Davis and the Grammy-nominated North Mississippi Allstars, whose members include Dickinson's sons Luther and Cody. Dickinson always understood the enduring power of music and that is mirrored in his epitaph he wrote himself: “I’m just dead, I’m not gone.”
 
James Luther Dickinson is survived by his wife Mary and his two sons.

The Beatles Pt 2

Posted by Amoebite, August 19, 2009 10:54am | Post a Comment
We are kicking off the celebration in honor of the digitally remastered Beatles reissues set to hit Amoeba September 9! Each Wednesday until September 2, we will present a segment of The Beatles' biography. Then, the week of September 2-9 will be marked here on the blog with a number of Beatles related posts with a huge variety of topics! You can begin with last week's Part One of the fabled band's history if you missed it by clicking right here. Otherwise, we are on to Part Two:

HAMBURG APPRENTICESHIP


beatles hamburg

The rechristened group took a major step towards professionalism in 1960 with the acquisition of Liverpool promoter and club owner Allan Williams as their manager. Williams had co-promoted shows with Larry Parnes, the powerful, insidious London-based manager of such unlikely-named teen idols as Billy Fury and Tommy Steele. He arranged an audition for The Silver Beetles (which now included drummer Tommy Moore) before Parnes, who hired the group for a tour of Scotland backing one of Parnes’ lesser charges, the third-tier singer Johnny Gentle. They returned from the chaotic spring trek broke and bedraggled, but schooled in the verities of lifebeatles hamburg on the rock ‘n’ roll motorway.

In the summer of 1960, a chance meeting between Williams and a German club owner opened an opportunity for his group – now permanently known as The Beatles – to play a run of shows at a venue in Hamburg. Then minus a drummer and desperate for the employment, the band quickly drafted the handsome, diffident son of Casbah owner Mona Best, Pete Best, whose band The Blackjacks was in the process of dissolving. In August 1960, the quintet set forth on a fateful ferry voyage to the continent.

Continue reading...

August 18, 2009

Posted by phil blankenship, August 19, 2009 10:51am | Post a Comment
Grace movie ticket stub Laemmle Sunset 5






THIS AIN'T NO PICNIC VIDEO - MINUTEMEN Vs RONALD REAGAN

Posted by Billyjam, August 19, 2009 10:00am | Post a Comment
      
Minutemen "This Ain't No Picnic" (Double Nickles On The Dime, 1984 SST)

Until the other day when I accidentally stumbled upon the Minutemen's excellent video for their equally excellent song "This Ain't No Picnic," I had forgotten just how great this video was. The song, one of 45 Minutemen Double Nickles On The Dimebrilliant tracks off the SoCal band's flawless, four-sided 1984 release Double Nickles On The Dime (SST) -- an album that remains on my top five desert island discs all these years later -- was written reportedly by the late D. Boon out of frustration with his narrow minded employer at an auto parts store.

According to the recommended Michael Azerrad penned book Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground, 1981-1991 (Little Brown), which borrows its title from a Mike Watt (Minutemen) lyric, Boon, who was working at this Southern Cali auto parts store, had wanted to choose the music to listen to at his workplace and had flipped to an LA area jazz/soul radio station. However, his boss wouldn't allow him to, reportedly  calling the radio station's playlist "nigger shit." "His [Boon's] frustration fueled a Minutemen classic," wrote Azerrad in his 2001 book.

The Randall Jahnson directed video for the song (above) may have only cost a meager $600 to make, but regardless it still got some (albeit limted) airplay on MTV that year and even managed to be featured in the first ever VMAs (VIdeo Music Awards) by MTV the following year. Note that the Ronald Reagan (who was president at the time) war film footage was all copyright free to use since it was free public domain content. To have your own copy of this video, pick up the Minutemen documentary We Jam Econo at Amoeba Music, which features it as one of the DVD's bonus features. And, if you don't already own it, I highly recommend you buy the Minutemen's Double Nickles On The Dime album. It's a classic!
This Ain't No Picnic (D.Boon) lyrics

Villanova Junction

Posted by Whitmore, August 18, 2009 10:05pm | Post a Comment

One of my favorite reads in any blog is the unquantifiable absolute statement ... "this is the consummate, best bla bla bla since the invention of sliced bread and Pepto-Bismol..."; well, 40 years ago today, August 18th 1969, the absolutely greatest blues jam ever captured on celluloid, bar none, absolute fact and sure as shit Sherlock-- Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock and a tiny, minor keyed, mellow and oddly intimate piece, only about three minutes long, so profoundly perfect I don’t think such artistry has been witnessed in western civilization since the days of Johann Sebastian Bach.
 
Hendrix was the headliner at the Woodstock Music & Art Fair but didn’t hit the stage till after the scheduled festival, Monday morning at dawn. The delay was due to the bad weather and an infinite number of logistical problems. By the time he arrived on stage, the audience, which had peaked at over 500,000 people, had dwindled to somewhere between 60,000 to 160,000 people, still a hell of a crowd. Hendrix would play a two hour set, the longest of his career. The official, historic, climax of the set was obviously his rendition of the "The Star-Spangled Banner," probably --and here is one of those absolute statements again -- the greatest musical pyrotechnic blast of the entire crazed decade of the 1960’s, hell, make it the entire second half of the 20th century, life was just never the same after detonation. But as far as I’m concerned the gem of the whole set, and the last song before the encore, is the Hendrix's free form, breathtakingly beautiful, soulful modal blues, "Villanova Junction." And yes, at times the piece has brought me to tears, what can I say, I tear up easily ... watch and listen.

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