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Leave it to Floyd Dixon to stir up trouble.

By all accounts he was a passive soul, not a combative sort at all, so this isn’t the usual kind of rock ‘n’ roll trouble wherein someone winds up in jail or passed out on the floor of a studio somewhere.

Instead this is the kind of trouble that guys like Dixon excelled at – financial problems leading to contractual ensnarements and record company shenanigans which for once actually turned out alright.

The story though is confusing, probably not completely accurate, and may obscure an otherwise pretty decent record… all of which is par for the course for Floyd Dixon.


Always Ready To Go
Here’s what we know for sure.

Floyd Dixon has made the rounds of most independent record companies west of the Mississippi River to date and been fairly successful commercially with all of them without being able to firmly state whether he’s a rocker, a cocktail blues singer or a down home blues act. His latest release for Aladdin, Telephone Blues, was solidly in the blues camp and now, just as that record is rising up the charts, they release a follow-up…

What gives?

Well, as it turns out this wasn’t originally recorded for Aladdin but rather Peacock Records last year during a double session that Dixon did in exchange for enough money to bury his mother who had just passed away. You may remember that the company he’d been recording for – Modern Records – and who’d gotten hits out of him in addition to stealing his songwriting credits, refused to even front him the money for this. In desperation he turned to Don Robey of Peacock, usually the least trustworthy man in any room he entered, and got what he was looking for.

Robey got what he was looking for too – a hit – but he in turn tried to pressure Dixon into signing with him long term which Dixon wisely refused, knowing Robey’s reputation for cheating backed with violence. Instead he went to Aladdin and after proving his worth with the Mesner brothers asked them to see about buying his Peacock sides, which had been released but not promoted, save for the one hit.

To everyone’s surprise Robey agreed to the deal, maybe figuring that he was getting his money back this way for records that he wasn’t about to push himself because they’d wind up benefiting an artist he couldn’t get anything out of.

So Let’s Dance came out in early 1951 (most sources say January) on Aladdin after – presumably – being issued last summer on Peacock 1543. Since there may have been all of twelve copies released on the original label we’ll stick it here instead on Aladdin’s release rolls when most listeners at the time would’ve heard it.

But don’t let the confusion mislead you, this was a solid offering for what was essentially a hastily arranged on-demand session and a sign that Dixon was getting ever more comfortable in rock settings.


Have You Got That Swing
That the record starts off with its worst moments is something we probably should’ve come to expect out of Dixon, who always seemed to be undercutting his own chances for success in some form or fashion.

Here it’s the hokey spoken lines “Man, get off my corns””You just have bad feet!”, meant to be funny of course but with Dixon’s stuffy sincere voice it doesn’t come off well, not that even a seasoned comedian could draw many laughs from stilted lines like that.

Once the music starts and his stand-up routine concludes the record takes off. Not that it ever transforms into something thrilling mind you, but it’s an effective mid-paced rocker with a good theme, solid arrangement and confident vocals.

Some of the conversational lyrics are a little too casual and unfocused, as he’s apparently standing around with a group of guys and girls trying to find a partner to dance with, pairing others up and putting down those who don’t seem into it, all of which is a little hard to follow the first time through, but the basic message is that dancing is fun, there’s plenty of people there to dance with, so just grab someone and get on the floor and Let’s Dance.

Good advice really and from there he’s just enjoying himself, name-checking the Texas Hop and the Lollipop which is apparently a dance popular in Chicago at the time, and for some reason bragging about the money his girl has… no, it doesn’t make much sense really, but who really cares because he’s having a good time during all this, the band is enjoying themselves and giving us some liquidy guitar and a sultry sax in the break, and all of them are chiming in on the title line each time through.

It’s a communal record basically, maybe something of a throwaway considering there’s not much craftsmanship in the storyline, but like most times when you’re out dancing it’s not the details you remember, just the overall vibe and in that sense this works pretty well.


Don’t Be A Square
Coming off his recently released blues hit with Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers, this record at least keeps his hand in the rock field lest anyone think he was abandoning it altogether.

It’s disappointing he couldn’t score big with his rock sides but Let’s Dance wasn’t exactly deserving of hit status, it’s merely a good record with an easy going charm and solid musicianship.

Whether the few who’d seen, played on a jukebox or bought this record if and when it had come out on Peacock months earlier were bothered they were being sold recycled goods remains to be seen, but it’s fair to say that nobody should’ve had any regrets over this one.

Not Peacock who got paid to unload them without worrying about any disinterest in the market… not Aladdin who probably sold enough of them to break even, or at least keep Dixon happy for the time being… and not listeners who got a chance to hear him sound a little more spry than on his bluesier songs.

Maybe the only ones who didn’t appreciate the effort were the lonely wallflowers stuck listening to records at home by themselves while everyone else was out on the town, dancing and having a good time… which is kinda the point to music in the first place, so maybe they just need a new hobby, like painting.

You’ll need to visit another website for that though.


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