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When you’re driving down the highway and you cross a state line there’s always a road sign telling you in plain language that you are now Entering… (Fill In The Blank), usually followed by their touting something they’re famous for to let you know you’re someplace special.

When you advance from one grade to the next after passing all your exams from last semester and having gotten your final grades you walk into a new classrooms with new teachers, maybe even in a new school altogether, all to let you know you’re starting over with a blank slate.

And even though it may take you a couple of weeks to stop writing last year’s date on checks there are still calendars to tell you that you’ve entered a new year every January.

But the boundaries between musical genres are more ambiguous, more fluid, more confusing. Sometimes even when you have certain recognizable markers to guide you, like artist names and record labels, there’s still some uncertainty surrounding just what songs belong in which categories.

Like this one.


A Golden Bed
The sole purpose of this convoluted website is to untangle the entire gnarled history of the genre of rock ‘n’ roll one record at a time.

That means only rock records get reviewed.

We’ll mention other records from other genres frequently within those reviews, telling how they may have impacted rock, or if artists came from another style of music before landing in rock to explain how they arrived here, but we don’t take time to actually cover those styles and those records.

But occasionally there are legitimate rock artists who don’t always see fit to cooperate with that edict and seem to take perverse pleasure in making life difficult for us around here by releasing songs that belong elsewhere. That’s when it gets frustrating for us and maybe confusing for those without the patience to carefully read all these disclaimers.

Our policy on what to do in those cases essentially boils down to this: Artists who have firmly established themselves as rockers and who will continue to release rock records after that borderline single get shown a little more leniency when it comes to having those songs covered here, if only to not have too many gaps in their stories as they unfold on these pages.

But usually if they release a pure rock song, like Girl Fifteen, coupled with something that’s not quite as comfortable a fit in rock ‘n’ roll we have no problem about skipping over the offending song, simply because we’ve had the opportunity in that first review to mention it and note its absence.

You’ll notice though we’re not doing that for Walkin’ And Talkin’ Blues even though it theoretically could be excluded on the basis it belongs to another genre, that of cocktail blues… a connection made even more obvious by the paring with Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers, one of the most famous and acclaimed cocktail blues trios ever on the record.

Which brings us to the dual citizenship qualification that likely none of you give a crap about but which you’ll be forced to deal with anyway in the name of completeness.


Along Came Another Train
As this record starts you’ll recognize a lot of the hallmarks of cocktail blues staring you in the face.

In fact it’s got the same DNA as the record that actually put Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers on the freakin’ map five years earlier when Driftin’ Blues became a best seller, establishing the group and their then frontman Charles Brown as the leaders in the emerging field that took a far more polished look at the downcast blues genre… essentially removing it from the Delta and its off-shoots into the Northern urban centers of Detroit and Chicago, and placed it in a much different context – the more laid back Los Angeles nightclub scene of the 1940’s.

Cocktail blues kept the bleaker subjects that had always been a cornerstone of the blues but made them more urbane… they put a suit and tie on the music and shoved a mixed drink in its hand at a table at the club rather than letting it keep the image of people in overalls swilling bottled hooch in converted tobacco barns and roadhouses down South that the primary form of blues had always been associated with over the years.

Walkin’ And Talkin’ Blues fits that first classier cocktail blues description to a T when it starts off, the melody and delivery being remarkably similar to the aforementioned song that popularized the entire style back in 1946. Were it to keep that suit of clothes on throughout the record it would’ve been shown the door in rock ‘n’ roll where nobody wears ties and people rarely remain seated very long.

But as it goes along other elements come into play which makes that residency somewhat questionable. Let’s just say that while they might not tear those clothes off and start jumping naked around the room, they’re at least loosening their tie and twitching their leg, maybe drumming their fingers on the table top.

The protagonist for this gradual shift isn’t Dixon himself who follows the Charles Brown blueprint pretty well for much of this, but rather producer and saxophonist Maxwell Davis who’s blowing such atmospheric lines in response to Dixon’s cool detached vocals that it takes it across that border into another territory.

It might not be applying for residency there either but with a foot on the ground in both places there’s a compelling reason to consider the ramifications of this combination of influences in terms of the record, full stop, at a time when Dixon’s past success had still not managed to firmly establish just who and what he was as an artist.

Everything I Could Afford
Though Floyd Dixon was always recognizable no matter his material he was something of a chameleon when it came to song structure and arrangements, as his first chart hit was the dusty rural sounding Dallas Blues, a pure blues song any way you look at it, as was his most recent hit, Sad Journey.

Meanwhile some of his most intriguing rock songs were more experimental in nature, such as the exotic vibe of Blues In Cuba with Eddie Williams & His Brown Buddies – former members of none other than Moore’s Three Blazers no less! His best rock song – also with them – was the strutting Red Head ‘N Cadillac which left no doubt as to where it belonged. So after a few years in the business it was clear that he could tweak his delivery and be accepted in a number of genres.

Therefore to have him being paired up with The Three Blazers and given the seat once occupied by one of his avowed idols in Charles Brown no less, while doing a song like Walkin’ And Talkin’ Blues that was based in part on a verified classic in the cocktail blues idiom may have been an ominous sign for those, like us, who wanted him to concentrate more fully on rock. If this succeeded in that realm then who was to say he wouldn’t pursue this full-time?

Yet maybe we shouldn’t worry much because even here he shows that he’s not leaving us behind completely, for his songwriting contains humor that cocktail blues generally eschewed… the best line being “I even bought you some hair just to decorate your head” after he criticizes his girlfriend’s mercenary habits when it comes to accepting – or demanding – gifts from him for her affection.

That snarky attitude combined with Davis keeping his finger on the pulse of the rock audience and providing his own sultry saxophone work to pull them in further, means this exists in two realms simultaneously… and truthfully succeeds in both of them. Johnny Moore’s guitar solo is really tasteful and could be intriguing enough for rock fans who were not yet accustomed to such things to give it a chance, while the sax is a nice addition to what is usually a much more sparse sound that cocktail blues inhabits.

It might not fully satisfy the more rigid members of either constituency who demand fealty in their artists but for those who simply look for good music wherever they can find it this may actually open the door to something different for a lot of casual listeners and that’s never a bad thing.

Hop Right Aboard
We said yesterday talking about Dixon that sometimes you need to be lucky in where you land and here he has to be grateful that Aladdin Records employed Maxwell Davis who made sure to keep him from aligning himself fully with cocktail blues by injecting just enough stylistic wrinkles in the song to keep listeners off balance.

Though Walkin’ And Talkin’ Blues “as is” might actually be a better cocktail blues record than a rock record – perhaps reaching the lower green numbers in a similar type of history for that type of music – it’s still a solid rock record by virtue of more than just its lineage with Dixon and Davis, but rather because of what each brings to the table under the guise of another style.

It always helps to keep in mind that most artists are just fans of music first and foremost, regardless of style, and their specialties are based more on the demands of the era than strict preference for one over another. Some, like Dixon, thrived in an era where multiple options available to him were commercially viable and so he never firmly settled on one them exclusively.

Sometimes that can be irritating when trying to tell his story on a platform that wants to focus solely on one type of music but it as seen here it also has the ability to make that output a little more interesting as well if you’re just willing to have an open mind and give it a chance.


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