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Dan Hicks' major label debut is, like the man himself, an odd thing. Having stepped out from behind the drum set whilst with The Charlatans, strapping on a guitar and heading for the mic' in order to better put over his own original songs, he split that group and set out on his own. Well, not quite, of course. He had his Hot Licks, including the lovely Lick-ettes, to help him on his way.

Recorded at Doug Weston's legendary coffee house come folk club, The Troubadour, where acts as diverse as Steve Martin and Tom Waits were discovered, and where the young Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, The Eagles, and many more made their early forays towards hipster stardom, Hicks and his Licks dig into their bag of tricks. His music is dominated by strings: guitar, double bass, violin, and mandolin, with his laconic vocals the frontline to a backing of sweet harmonies, characterised in particular by the retro close harmonies of the Lick-ettes. The music itself blends blues, folk, jazz, and country, much of it in the ballpark of 'Western Swing', a genre Hicks himself name checks.

There are several uptempo numbers, including the opening and closing numbers, the best of which, in my view, is The Buzzard Was Their Friend. Hicks' records often feature a number of instrumentals, allowing his excellent band to stretch out. If memory serves me right, there's just the one here, the mid-set Hot Club-esque Shorty Falls In Love, in which violinist 'Symphony' Sid Page gets to strut his stuff. Amongst my personal favourites are the rather haunting News From Up The Street, and the title track, exemplary of his sardonic wit. And whilst Hicks doesn't take the stage banter as far as Tom Waits does on his superb Nighthawks At The Diner, his ornery charisma is very much part of the attraction.

So, whilst the material isn't all top-drawer, the wonderful character of the man and his music, ably and enthusiastically performed by his Hot Licks and Lick-ettes, shines through, making this essential for any music lover bound for Hicksville, 'the home of happy feet'.
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on 14 August 2003
Dan's first (Original Recordings) is no longer available, though
several tracks are on "The Most of...". That's worth it just
for the few tracks from the never released 2nd Epic album.
This live album is the first with the new band. It is early
enough still to have an authentically scary feel. Some people
prefer the more polished "Striking it Rich" sound. But these
first two albums really sounded like nothing on earth.
Make no mistake, this is serious psychedelic music.
Personally I'm STILL waiting for the 103.
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on 13 December 2007
Back in the very early 70s, the guy in the flat upstairs played this album to death - and sung along with every word (rather nicely) with his mates, so I knew it pretty well before buying it. The previous reviewer on this page has got it spot on. The songs can be pretty, witty, tuneful, sardonic, throwaway, scary and sincere in any combination. Trouble is, once you heard em, you'll never forget them. And some of the Lickettes singing is so damn sexy. Pity they're probably grandmas now ...

Two incidental facts. Dan Hicks used to be the drummer in a cult psychedelic band in San Francisco called The Charlatans. And I once read a review of the album in a SF underground mag in which the writer (can't remember who exactly, but he was a serious musician) said that when he first heard the fiddle solo in 'I Scare Myself' he was so spooked he literally drove off the road! Ah the power of music! Having said that, it IS the scariest piece of music I have ever heard too - and very beautiful too.
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on 13 December 2012
I still treasure this fantastic LP, and bought the cd to play in the car.
I've been a big fan of Dan since buying the "Original Recordings" LP. This live recording from The Troubador finds this 5 piece ensemble on top form, showing what quality music a small acoustic group can make.
Dan's dry humour shines through both in the intro's and in the songs.
Try it and be amazed.
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on 11 May 2009
You might be a little misled, if you read the other reviews, that this is in some way a sort of psychedelic masterpiece. It's not. Yes, it belongs to the Hippie era but Hicks was always a sort of a maverick rather than part of the then SF musical mainstream, and this album reflects the very wonderful swing/country/folk vibe that Hicks explored.

It's a live concert. There is no "I Scare myself" - it was on the next album - but what you do get is a tight little band, consciously exploring the roots of American music, and the Lickettes add a wonderful chorus to Hick's subtle and mordant obeservations on life.

There is no really stand out track, but that's only because the concert as a whole really is a seamless package, very nicely paced, beautifully sung and played. Hicks at the time was out of favour with the hippie press and had a reputation for.."difficult" behaviour with colleagues. But the tensions don't show up too much here.

Especially beautiful are the gentle swing of "Reelin Down" and the fast, jazzy do-wop of "Where's the Money". But there again just put it on track one and get swept away with the wponderfully gawky "I feel like Singing". A truly unique album. Have always loved it and love it still..
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on 23 December 2010
This and Strlking It Rich are 2 of the great albums of the early 70's or any other era.

If you love sardonic wit,marvelous musicianship,particularly the solo violin of Naomi Ruth Eisenberg,then you'll love this wonderful live set and the cooler
Stricking It Rich
Highly ,highly recommended !
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on 19 November 2010
Recorded live, it has all the Dan Hicks trademarks except killer songs like Moody Richard or I Scare Myself. Anyone wanting an introduction to Dan Hicks is politely steered to Striking It Rich, which is one of the all time great albums.
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