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If you read this tomorrow, or any of the other 363 days left after that until next Halloween rolls around, this intro won’t mean much, but on the day this goes up it’s rather appropriate since it presents rock artist Floyd Dixon wearing his blues costume to go trick or treating.

Unless you’re one of those who thinks he’s a blues artist who occasionally dresses up as a rock act to try and get us to give him candy… in which case check back later.

But that’s not a circumstance unique to this day on the calendar with Dixon, he’s always skirting the line between the two genres which means you’re left with a few choices to make, none of them entirely satisfying.

You can decide to simply include – or exclude – everything he does by slotting him fully in (or out) of rock… or you can pick and choose from among his catalog and review his more rock-based sides while leaving out the rest.

That’s what we’ve done, but even so there’s times like this where we’re prone to giving him the benefit of the doubt on a song where it may not quite be warranted.


I Hope You Heard Me
No matter which choice we made here, this is going to piss some people off.

There will be those who emphatically say this bluesy song has no business being in a rock overview and its presence here blurs the line between these two separate genres too much to warrant its inclusion.

But since it’s here many of those same people will probably complain that the grade we give it will be too low – BECAUSE of those blues elements – and will argue that if we ARE going to put it in, then we have to give it credit for what it does well… and to be fair, it does a whole lot well.

Yet the review itself will hopefully spell all of that out and if you’re only interested in a stupid number we hand out like those cheap bite sized candy bars that get smaller every year, you’re missing the point of this daffy project to begin with.

Just like Halloween is more about seeing kids get excited to wear a costume and walk around after dark and get rewarded for it, these reviews are more about telling the ongoing story of rock ‘n’ roll, its artists and record companies than it is about trying to come up with a be-all end-all bite sized number to determine what is and isn’t worth hearing.

Part of that story is that sometimes artists can’t fully make up their mind as to what they are and to show that we need to include some cuts that are borderline at best. In any case you’re always free to make your own assessment of each song’s relative worth.

Maybe your opinion on Come Back Baby will be better than mine, especially if you’re not judging it strictly in a rock context like we do here. That’s fine… and maybe you like getting Kit-Kat bars, Sour Patch Kids or M&M’s in your bag more than I do.

Here, we’re going to stick with Baby Ruths, Blow Pops and 100 Grand Bars and more rocking sides, but we’re not tossing out the other candy just because it’s not our favorite.

Unless it’s Raisinets or Whoppers… those aren’t even good enough to be CALLED candy.


Can’t Hardly Breathe
This song is very well constructed right from the start with a tight and efficient back and forth that finds Floyd Dixon’s piano surging into the forefront with a nice little riff before giving way to old friend Eddie Williams’s bass and the discreet drumming of Monk McFadden (seriously, if your name is Monk, that’s worth an extra candy bar for sure!) who then hand things back to Floyd for another go-round.

After that lead-in Dixon switches up what he’s playing to give some sense of a melody before we really get started, but otherwise the melodic elements are just hinted at from time to time by the musicians.

That leaves it to Floyd’s vocals to give us something we can follow along with and that’s always a dangerous proposition considering his voice comes from a place roughly five inches above his throat on most songs, wheezing out his nostrils which at least in the case of Come Back Baby makes a little more sense, as he could always claim he’d been crying over the girl’s departure.

We’ll go with that explanation in part because he’s convincing in this role and also because he gets off a few really good lines that bring a smile to your face amidst the gloom of his delivery. The one about just getting over pneumonia in particular is an unusual way to try and win back an ex-girlfriend and instead of coming across as a pathetic play on her sympathies, he passes it off so casually that you admire him for the way he pulls it off as if he were just engaging in small talk after not having seen her in awhile, like he’s merely trying to catch up with her since they last spoke.

Besides that however there’s nothing much new about his perspective, as he’s taking the same woe-is-me approach that so many guys have done when they get dumped. Personally if I were giving him advice I’d recommend going out on the town and enjoying your newfound freedom, showing you’re still in demand and maybe making your former flame jealous enough to try and get you back herself, but that’d call for an entirely different, more upbeat song and that’s something Dixon struggles with, so we’ll cut him some slack for not being too original with this.

He’s in good company in his misery however as the band is tight as can be, giving each other plenty of space as well as leaving plenty of room between each note at times, making this a suitably stark arrangement. Since we mentioned the others by, name we ought to single out Roy Hayes who delivers some languid, yet still stinging, guitar lines that serve to represent Dixon’s pain in losing this woman.

Though the overall concept is hardly original, the mood is predictable, the sparseness of the track is to be expected and Dixon’s performance brings nothing new to the table for these types of songs, all of which paints it as a by-the-numbers performance not worthy of much praise, we could just as easily say that they more or less nail each of those aspects which is always something to be appreciated.


The Way You Did Me Wasn’t Fair
In the final analysis there’s nothing much wrong with this as a record, as evidenced by it hitting the charts in Dallas… though you know there’s obviously a “but” coming that will take some of the shine off it from our admittedly one-sided perspective.

Here’s a way to try and explain it however. If an eight year old goes out trick or treating and gets a bagful of candy, they consider it a good night because they got what they expected and what they wanted. But if someone yanks them in the door and serves them a Thanksgiving feast, or each house on the block gives them candy canes like it was Christmas morning, it might still be a good haul in terms of what you get, but it’s hardly appropriate for Halloween night and would therefore be considered something of a let-down.

Different context = different expectations.

Come Back Baby is like that. A good song played well and sung in an appropriate way for the subject and one which can be squeezed into a rock outfit without being completely out of place, but which is probably a slightly better fit somewhere else.

Maybe it’s not fair that we included it, especially since we can’t give it the grade it’d receive in a pure blues context (at least a 7), but life’s not fair, just ask any kid getting Necco wafers tonight.

So think of this like getting Easter Candy in your Halloween stash. It’s still candy, but even if it hasn’t been sitting around since last spring getting stale and is perfectly fine to eat, it’d still be something that would somehow seem to taste better next April.


(Visit the Artist page of Floyd Dixon for the complete archive of his records reviewed to date)