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ALADDIN 3101; JULY 1951



No artist in rock’s first four years has been more consistently inconsistent than Floyd Dixon.

At times he’s been almost impossible to get a firm grip on because he never stayed put… label hopping, jumping from one stylistic motif to the next and pairing up with different bands – even coming out with records under their name rather than his own, despite him doing most of the work.

If that were the sign of a creatively restless soul it’d be easier to accept. But in Dixon’s case it was simply that he was too susceptible to the whims of others which may make him slightly sympathetic, but it also makes him a truly maddening artist to want to root for.


If You Can’t Give Me Money
Had he arrived on the scene five or six years earlier Floyd Dixon’s career course might’ve been a lot easier to get a handle on, for there were simply fewer options in the days before rock ‘n’ roll came along to offer a potentially bigger audience than had he stuck to the styles that were in vogue just a few years back.

In the mid-1940’s he’d have been a cocktail blues pianist and singer like his idol Charles Brown. Though nowhere near as smooth a vocalist as Brown thanks to Floyd’s excessively nasal tones, he had a way with nice melodies and a laid back vibe that was suited for that style.

Apparently others thought the same thing for he hooked up early with Eddie Williams, former bass player behind Brown in Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers, the preeminent cocktail blues trio in the business in the mid-1940’s. Together with Williams and drummer Ellis “Slow” Walsh, Dixon cut some very good sides as The Brown Buddies… including some solid rockers.

But that partnership fizzled out and Dixon was back on his own, cutting some cocktail blues tracks along with pure country blues, but also rock when Aladdin Records scooped him up and paired him with none other than… Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers, still in search of a replacement for the departed Brown who was now a solo star of note.

The change in the tastes of the music public should be easy enough to spot on Time And Place however, for while it does lean towards a more mellow vibe, the record company was using it as a Dixon release while giving Moore secondary artist credit.

Time had moved on but Dixon, to his detriment when it came to really getting ahead in the business, was still too deferencial to take advantage of it and set his own course.


Real Crazy In The Head
This is one of those records that is pleasant sounding enough to not mind hearing… provided you don’t actually listen to it.

Or rather, as long as you don’t try and figure out what the hell it means because clearly not even Floyd Dixon knows. He seems to have started out with the title and melody, probably repeating it over and over on the way to a gig, and then tried to craft a song around it without coming to the logical conclusion that it needed an entirely new theme for it to work.

That the rest of it isn’t bad shows you just how detrimental it was for him to stick with the part that doesn’t make much sense because the more Time And Place goes on the more the better aspects start to unravel before our eyes and leaves it in a confused tangled heap.

The basic concept is fine… Floyd wants to get away somewhere quiet and secluded with his girl, drink and have sex. He’s not horny mind you, just amorous and this is clearly a leisurely assignation he’s thinking of.

Moore and company are perfectly setting the scene by how they’re patiently unwinding the lilting melody rather than rushing through it and with the gentle ebbs and flows of the song it creates a nice tranquil mood as Moore’s guitar tone is particularly suited to the atmosphere.

Though Floyd’s lyrics are sort of all over the place – at one point enticing her to go with him by saying how they’ll be “talking trash to each other” during their illicit rendezvous… who knows, maybe that meant something different back then – we can probably chalk this up to underlying nervous excitement.

But the problem is the song’s hook can’t possibly be sensibly squeezed into the narrative. Keep in mind the story doesn’t resolve around FINDING the time to meet, or locating a suitable place to carry out this tryst, but rather it’s just a vocal hook that is determined to confuse you to no end.

The more he tries to force it into the plot, the farther astray he goes and eventually you find yourself wanting to stop him and ask for an explanation… maybe buy him a dictionary or thesaurus to help him put his thoughts on paper in a way that’s actually logical rather than mystifying.

When he then starts talking about money and credit you realize that he’s completely lost and you’re thankful when Moore takes a solo to alleviate the pressure on your brain for trying to make sense of it all.


I’ll Have To Get Some Gin
The sad thing about this record is – for the most part anyway – it still sounds okay in passing. A gentle melodic tune with subdued instrumentation is never a chore to get through, but by not coming up with lyrics or a plot to benefit the song – and in fact having them detract so much from what actually works – Dixon winds up making it something easy to pass over, if not be better off forgotten.

But in many ways Time And Place is emblematic of Dixon’s entire career. He had definite strengths and obvious weaknesses and the quality of his output was dependent on how those would be balanced, rather than if the latter would be eliminated altogether.

The fact that those strengths and weaknesses could vary from one song to the next meant it was impossible to mitigate his shortcomings by pairing him with someone who handled those other roles well, because sometimes you’d get a good lyric out of Floyd but a plodding melody rather than the other way around.

Here there’s no mistaking what works and no avoiding what doesn’t and so while this might actually make for a good record if someone doesn’t understand English and thus can’t get annoyed by what he’s trying to tell us, the fact is, once you learn this language the song loses too much of its appeal to be seen as something more than barely tolerable.


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