-- Robin Myrick

Floyd Dixon
Wake Up and Live!

Boogie-woogie piano legend Floyd Dixon's return from obscurity marks a welcome addition to the ranks of artiss who shaped post-World War II American music and who, decades later, are finally receiving the recognition they deserve. There's not a rock fan alive who can't, purely on reflex, shout the chorus to "Hey, Bartender," and who has more right to the song than the guy who wrote the thing in the first place? For that matter, Dixon still does the tune better than anyone else.

Wake Up and Live! -- happily recorded using vintage tube pre-amps, since jump blues don't need no transistors -- has nary a wrong note on it. If there's a glitch to this CD, it's that the sequencing is unsettling. Dixon, like his contemporaries Charles Brown and Amos Milburn, is a master of both slow blues and jump blues. Unfortunately, Wake Up exhibits this by jerkily rotating from jump to slow to jump for 15 of the CD's 16 tracks, until finally settling down for the jazzy instrumental "Gettin' Ready," which features as pretty an upright bass line as you'll ever hear. Given that there's not a clue that Dixon and baritone sax behemoth Charlie Owens, who adds his sound to half the tracks, were in any danger of running out of magic, Alligator should have cut enough tracks for a two-CD set -- one for jitterbugging and one for blues therapy. After all, who needs a slow, viscous, whiskey-drunk "Mean and Jealous Man" right next to a good-timing "450 Pound Woman?" (****)

-- Jim Sherman
Floyd Dixon performs Thursday, October 17, at Billy Blues Bar & Grill.

CDs are rated on a one to five star scale.

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