The Blues Experience With Cash McCall

The Blues Experience With Cash McCall
The Vintage Room

Dixon Landing Music

By T Charles
November 2008

Willie Dixon penned some of the finest blues songs ever written. But can his grandson Alex Dixon duplicate the feat? This album’s stated objective was to carry on the blues tradition. They nailed it - delivering some “new” vintage blues, more than ably carried by the soulful singing of Cash McCall.

I think you’ll agree Alex does have some decent songwriting chops. How did he get his sense of the blues? Well, Willie raised his grandson, and insisted that Alex learn to play guitar — no doubt dispensing the blues gospel to his protégé.

On this album however, he channels his grandfather on piano. He chose two tunes by granddad: “I Just Want To Make Love To You,” which has inspired too many covers to list, and “I’m Ready,” a biggie for Muddy Waters. There are also several songs that help you make the connection between grandson and granddad.

In addition to fronting the group, McCall adds some tasty licks on guitar. Steve Bell is right there on every tune with a traditional blues harp. Vinnie Threats is a steady, understated drummer. Rhythm licks are added smoothly by both Bill “Young Blood” Learned and Katy J. Bass duty is shared by Brady Wills, with Dylan Cooper on upright bass.

The opening track “Helluva Time” starts out easy, and is led by Bell on harp. It recalls many members of the blues hall of fame such as Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Willie Dixon, Elmore James, John Lee Hooker, Koko Taylor and many others. Sounds like a helluva time to me.

If it has a familiar sound, “Slice Of That Pie,” is a good dance song that echoes the feel and phrasing of “Spoonful,” and adds its own theme. Alex Dixon opens with a steady, tuneful piano, and will keep your toe a tappin’ throughout.

“Make A Fool Of Me” is another good dance song with a traditional blues topic of the poor guy being treated like a fool. ”Gypsy Woman” was written as a prequel to “Hootchie Cootchie Man.” Harp aficionados: cue this one up and listen to Bell’s harp solo work on this. This song tells about the gypsy woman who predicted the birth of the hootchie cootchie man. Alex borrowed Willie’s great intro for this one, and returned to it for the ending.

“Catch Me Before I Go” is another good dance song with a beat that will keep your head bobbin’ with McCall’s searing guitar, Bell’s tasty harp, and Alex’s steady piano.

Added to the Dixon family mix is “Mama,” a slow one written by Morris Dollison. Unlike the blues cuts on the disc, this tune is a thank you song about the importance of a mother’s unconditional love while raising her children without the niceties that others may have.

“Bring It On Home” is not at all like its namesake by Sam Cooke. This one will also get you on the dance floor. It is about a train ride home, his mind bent on coming home to you. “One Touch” is not a dance tune for most, but has a moderate, persuasive tempo. It starts out with a compliment and then some sweet talk, such as “the things we could do” and “let me prove it—one touch is all it takes”.

“One Touch” (instrumental) may be a filler song, but for my taste, the band also shows that their musicianship can stand up on its own by delivering an instrumental that keeps the blues feeling. I added every song to my blues playlist.

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