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Deke Dickerson

More Million Sellers – 1999 (HighTone)

Reviewed by Jon Johnson

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CDs by Deke Dickerson

While Dickerson's two albums with the now-defunct Dave and Deke Combo revived rockabilly's hillbilly roots and much of his first solo album, last year's "Number One Hit Record," followed in the Combo's footsteps, Dickerson has largely laid aside the hillbilly influences this time. Only "Broken Down & Broken Hearted" serves as a reminder of earlier work.

What remains is mostly greasy '50's rock 'n' roll, with a few interesting exceptions. And it's a good fit for Dickerson. The opening cut, "Let the Good Times Roll," sounds for all the world like a lost Jerry Lee Lewis classic, right down to the inspired piano work of ex-Fly Rite Boy Carl Sonny Leyland, who also duets with Dickerson on "I Think You Gotta Pay For That." Indeed, special guests pop up throughout, including comedian Billy Barty, blues singer Hadda Brooks, "Ballad of Jed Clampett" singer Jerry Scoggins, Comets saxophonist Joey D'Ambrosio and the reclusive Billy Zoom, guitarist of the Los Angeles-based band X.

Perhaps most interesting, however, is "I Gave My Heart Before," on which Dickerson tackles the style of Ricky Nelson's late '50's Imperial sides (as a vocalist he's never sounded better), and "It's a Beautiful Day," an unlisted bonus track on which Dickerson uncannily replicates the sound of the classic Les Paul and Mary Ford records of the post-war years.

Easily Dickerson's best work since the breakup of the Combo and it's particularly nice to see him tentatively exploring other musical directions given his talent.