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ALADDIN 3135; JUNE 1952



Depending on your point of view this upbeat rocking song would either confirm the inclusion of the more mellow cocktail blues leaning hit side of this single based on the idea of wanting a broader representation of a rock artist’s output…

Or conversely it would suggest that previous low-key song with it a far different vibe belongs exclusively in another genre altogether because this cut lays bare the difference in style and approach.

Neither one is wrong probably, but we side with the former because we can’t tell Floyd Dixon’s rock story without showing how wide the scope of his musical vision strayed at times.

We hope it’s songs like this which justify that decision, but even if you disagree and take the other position there’s not a rock fan alive who doesn’t want to see this side get its just due.


A Little Bit Of Wine Is Never Bad
Anyway you look at it, whatever your stylistic taste, these are precisely the kind of singles that work so well, giving both artist and audience the opportunity to indulge in two sides of their musical persona.

We get the late night musings of Call Operator 210 where Dixon is trying to repair his relationship which for all we know might very well have been caused by the collateral damage incurred by THIS side of the record, the partying side where bad behavior abounds.

As committed rockers we naturally approve of that behavior musically and are probably joining him in the debauchery itself if we want to live up to our image, but in between the first sip and the least heave of our nausea lays the broad stylistic terrain covered by Floyd Dixon over his career.

Sure, he was always more comfortable with the haunted misery of the other side of this single, and lots of similar cuts over his career that veered towards cocktail blues at times, but it’s the presence of storming numbers like Wine, Wine, Wine that may have actually bolstered his overall success for what I hope are fairly obvious reasons.

For those of us who genuinely like the blues but absolutely love rock ‘n’ roll, there’s bound to be pockets of blues that elude our interest unless something pulls us towards it. Cocktail blues in particular is at risk for becoming that blind spot as it’s not designed to have the visceral power of 1952-era Howlin’ Wolf, Elmore James and B.B. King records.

But with Floyd Dixon cutting pure rock tracks like this one it opens up the rest of his catalog for exploration and in the process allows you to carefully study the similarities of some of those more introspective slow mournful tunes with likeminded methods found in many rock ballads, rather than simply dismiss them all out of hand for being too far removed from the main narrative of rock.

Thus, while we committed rockers have to acknowledge that this more “appropriate” side (for our cause) failed to register with the broader public, we can take solace in the fact that by sharing space with the well-crafted and nicely delivered – albeit less vibrant – side of this single may just have helped break it to a slightly wider audience and propelled it higher up the charts.


Feels So Doggone Fine
One huge key in the difference between the divergent sounding songs is the appearance of Maxwell Davis, stepping out from the control booth as producer to play the tenor sax which launches this into orbit from the first notes.

There was few better sidemen in rock history than Davis. He may be overshadowed by a few bigger names with more prominent show-stoppers in their repertoire, but few if any sax players integrated themselves so effortlessly into the arrangement of the artists they worked with.

Here Davis knows he’s got to provide the energy for the song because even with Floyd Dixon’s more enthusiastic vocal turn, his perpetually clogged his nasal passages are always going to render those attempts slightly compromised. Davis’s sax works as the decongestant, blasting away while altering anyone within earshot that this is not something to listen to while sitting alone in a darkened room at three in the morning as the other half is.

Dixon for his part does his best to keep up in this ode to getting juiced whose primary shortcoming is that it may be a little too basic in the lyrical department. But then again have you ever known someone swilling booze of any kind to retain their more complex language faculties after downing half a bottle? So let’s just say it fits the simple story of Wine, Wine, Wine while the rest is up to Dixon’s spirit rather than the spirits he’s consuming.

To do this he’s got to find a steady groove and stick to it, letting his vocal cadences bolster the rhythm and create an infectious atmosphere that the musicians will amplify.

The guitar of Roy Hayes does its job during the vocal passages, contributing sneaky little fills and slightly more elongated passages that bubble up at the end of the stanzas. While we could suggest Monk McFadden lay off the swinging techniques on the drums and aim for a more driving beat, Dixon’s piano picks up some of the slack with a strong but subtle left hand that anchors the bottom.


All The Time… Time… Time
Yet throughout this effectively uncomplicated rolling track they provide we still anxiously await the return of Maxwell Davis for the inevitable solo that will make or break the song in many ways. When he does appear we’re happy to report that it’s like pulling the cork out of another bottle with your teeth and spitting it across the room.

His entrance alone gives Wine, Wine, Wine the kick it needs to get us high. His gritty full bodied tone is so infectious that you’re almost tempted to hand over lead artist credit to him and view Dixon as a glorified sideman.

Though he never attempts to bring the sax to a boil and melt the wax it appears on, he also doesn’t soft-peddle anything to take the edge off. Even when he starts to dial down the intensity he’s doing it simply to ease the transition back to the vocals.

Of course by that point we know there’s not going to be any wild climax, lyrically or otherwise, and that this is still just a fairly rudimentary dance record designed to make sure Dixon’s nightly set at the clubs stays varied, as does his recorded output, but when you’re the ones who have no intention of being a wallflower on your night on the town, this kind of drink… err… record, still hits the spot.


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