warm, classic R&B

Wake Up and Live! (Alligator)
Floyd Dixon

By Michael Campbell

Even if you heard Floyd Dixon's version of "Hey, Bartender" without knowing that he was the song's composer, you would still be struck by the authenticity of his performance. Dixon's sound is classic R&B, the kind they don't play on the radio anymore, except occasionally on the "oldies" station. It is boogie-woogie piano-centric, with that early New Orleans rock 'n' roll sound. And while one could nit-pick about similarity of song structures, it is an immensely satisfying recording.

Speaking of immense, Dixon joyously rocks out as he extols the virtues of his "450 Pound Woman," which was originally titled "750 Pound Woman." We won't even think about that. In the blues shuffle "A Dream," his nocturnal fantasies include Oprah Winfrey, Kim Fields, and (honest) Brooke Shields.

Things take a darker turn with "Mean and Jealous Man," but Dixon is so engaging, he just can't sound dangerous, even when he threatens to lock his woman in the bathroom. Dixon is at his best — both rockin' the house and delivering his down home philosophy — in the slow and uplifting "My Song Is Don't Worry."

This album exudes warmth. This is partly due to it being recorded on state-of-the-art 1950s microphones and equipment, and in part to the empathetic saxophone of Eddie Synigal and the barroom-tested rhythm section.

Dixon nearly dropped out of music a few times over his long career, and he was coaxed back most recently by Port Barlow, the album's guitarist, in 1989. Now he's on Alligator, where he belongs, because he's a true original.