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MODERN 20-725; DECEMBER, 1949



What’s the difference between swinging and missing at the plate and making contact as a batter? An inch? A fraction of that?

When you’re driving and a car pulls out in front of you forcing you to swerve or slam on your brakes to avoid hitting them, how much leeway do you have to react when the one outcome is crumpling your fender and the other is merely cursing them as you pull away without a scratch? A half second? Maybe a full second at most?

In musical terms what separates a flat uninspired record that deserves to be stillborn in the market and one that is at least is decent enough to be heard and have it be appreciated in modest terms even if it doesn’t quite do enough to be worthy of being a hit?

We’re about to find out the answer to that last question as we take a look at Floyd Dixon’s latest fairly respectable effort which was released on the flip side of something he’d have been better off leaving on the shelf.


Please Tell Me You’ll Accept Me Madly
Floyd Dixon, whether recording as a solo act or within a larger group, is proving to be a rather frustrating artist.

It’s not just the up and down quality of his releases, one of which has been the equal of virtually anything to have come out this past year, while much of the rest of his output wallows in mediocrity, scarcely sounding as if the songs came from the same artist, let alone were often cut at the same session with the same musicians.

No, the bigger problem with Dixon is you get the sense that he himself, and those around him, have no real idea what the difference is between inspired and insipid.

Then again, to our ears at least, neither does the audience.

How else to explain the fact that it was the somewhat bland Broken Hearted which became the biggest hit Dixon was associated with as the frontman for Eddie Williams And His Brown Buddies, while the exhilarating flip-side of that single, Red Head N’ Cadillac, wound up not drawing any real interest on its own, despite being among the best songs to hit the streets all summer?

As a music fan you’d like to think that the artist in question, if not those running the sessions themselves, have a pretty good sense of what’s working and why. That’s their job after all, to be able to discern quality compositions, arrangements and performances and be able to weed out that which falls short of those standards.

It’d be one thing if Dixon was actively taking chances with his material or arrangements. An experimental piece that falls short can be admirable in its attempt even if the end result isn’t worth hearing.

But so much of what Dixon is churning out is following the same predictable path – that of slow, contemplative, downright morose ballads – that we’re not inclined to cut him as much slack as we would if he was shaking up the snow globe and trying to come up with something completely different each time out.


I May Be A Fool
On the aforementioned flip side of this, the wandering and pointless Cow Town, the slow as molasses pacing and the lack of any real insight or action in the lyrics meant there was no components left to draw your interest. Dixon’s nasal singing was listless and the band’s playing – though competent – was equally lethargic by design, so without a memorable plot the record fell flat.

But on Forever And Ever they use many of the same components – a languid pace and a sleepy delivery to tell a rather simple story – and yet the results work far better because of seemingly minor touches, yet you get the idea that none of them were even fully cognizant of the differences the two sides featured or why it mattered.

How can we possibly TRUST people like this? I mean, if we’re supposed to be representing the average rock fan of the day, eagerly awaiting each week’s new releases to try and assess which of them we’ll spend our limited funds on, wouldn’t Dixon’s utter lack of awareness as to each of his releases strengths and weaknesses present a major problem for us? If HE doesn’t have any clue what’s worth his time to record how can the rest of us be expected to know what’s worth OUR time to listen to and buy?

We can’t. What that means is Dixon is becoming a jukebox-only artist, at least at first. Someone for whom we’re willing to invest a dime to hear both sides of each release, but who we’re not about to confidently plunk down seventy-nine cents to buy his latest singles, sound unheard, just because it has his name on it.

We can live with sub-par records every so often, those are just part of the risk you take with any artist, but what is driving us mad is the fact that the good and the bad are separated not by any radical creative differences, but rather they’re merely separated by slight variations in execution.

Forever And Ever is indicative of that. Essentially it’s the same structural composition as the woefully underwhelming top side, yet everything that fell short there has been shored up here and while it’s still not quite a GOOD record, it’s good enough to have us wondering why Floyd Dixon himself probably thought them both equal when laying them down in the studio.


I’ve Always Done To Others What I Wanted Them To Do To Me
The pace of the two songs is eerily similar for the most part, a pair of downbeat laments wherein Dixon gets to wallow in his own misery. There are a few differences, the spry piano opening of Cow Town which fools you into thinking the entire song will be more lively than it is as well as the more frequent guitar interludes and responses, setting it apart aurally in that regard, but overall the two still manage to conjure up the same state of mind thanks to Dixon’s morose delivery.

Where they part company however is in the details. The top side never manages to reconcile his apparent sadness with the fact the lyrics are largely about the friends he has waiting for him back home who’ll make him feel better once he sees them. But he’s dejected in spite of this and so you either don’t believe his story or you write him off as a manic depressive in desperate need of psychological care.

On Forever And Ever however he’s at the end of his rope because the girl he loves has left him which therefore makes his sadness more explicable. But while he’s certainly in despair over it he’s still in there pitching, trying to win her back and as such the hope and optimism lurking within him is fighting to come out. We don’t see him exhibit it fully but he offers hints that it’s still there, if only because he can’t bring himself to imagine that she’d be so cruel as to dump him without reason.

He might be delusional and he’s unquestionably hung up on her as he recounts how he’s done everything under the sun for her without complaint, which come to think of it might be why she left him, not wanting a manservant but rather an equal partner in life. But regardless of the reasons for his dismissal it’s his underlying spirit that we’re interested in and because he’s still got a sliver of hope that he’ll get her back, there’s a buoyancy in his mindset that becomes apparent as he goes along.

It also helps that the lyrics are less specific, something which might run counter to the usual criticisms around here where we tend to WANT more details to paint a fuller picture of the circumstances we’re hearing about it. But not so here. This is one instance where generalities work best, if only because then they become universal sentiments that everyone can relate to and identify with. When Dixon talks about his undying devotion to her the basic emotions behind that ring true. Everyone at one point or another feels that committed to whoever has captured their heart and while those feelings might not last long, when they have you in their grip they’re as real as can be and that’s what Dixon taps into here.

Don’t Leave Me In Misery
Of course there’s a limit to how much we’re willing to overlook the rudimentary accompaniment – block piano chords, a few nifty guitar fills and steady brushes on the snare setting a light skeletal beat – and though the guitar solo itself is neatly pulled off, alternating some liquid runs and a few harsher points of emphasis, it really could’ve used a sax solo to bolster the ambiance they’re trying desperately to set.

As for Dixon’s vocals, while he sounds appropriately choked up you realize that has less to do with his interpretation of the story and more to do with the fact he’s got a deviated septum and is in dire need of surgery.

Okay, okay, his nose (presumably) was in working order, but that doesn’t mean he should be singing through it quite as much as a he does on every song, something which becomes more apparent on these slower numbers. It’s a hard thing to overlook, especially when there’s no variation in his delivery these last few times out, both on his own and under the Eddie Williams & His Brown Buddies moniker on Supreme. Every so often he needs to shake the stuffing from his nostrils and while this probably wasn’t the type of song to do it with, he’s beginning to get on your nerves with that sound.

But what makes Forever And Ever work appreciably better than his other sad-sack output in spite of these complaints is there are no real flaws to the record, even if there’s hardly anything that stands out in a positive way either. The story doesn’t try and do too much, it uses a simple set-up that is relatable and tells the story with basic language that we all can appreciate. The music may be carried out at a snail’s pace but there’s no melodic pitfalls, no rhythmic slip-ups, no soloing missteps to get annoyed with.

The goal of this record was hardly set very high but they met those goals with relative ease, unlike the other side where they had the same limited ambition but fell woefully short of reaching it simply because their individual decisions were all just a bit off in the conception stage.

That doesn’t make this record something you’ll gladly keep plugging nickels into the jukebox to hear over and over but in comparison to some of Dixon’s work that will have you stepping outside into the cold December air to clear your head of their effects, with this you’ll at least let it play in the background unobtrusively while you take up a collection to pay your tab for the hamburgers, fries and sodas you consumed… and if you have any money left over, maybe a trip to the amusement park to let Dixon have some fun for once. If all you have left is some loose change you can at least get him some nasal spray at the drugstore counter before you leave.


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