You never knew quite where you were with Dan Hicks And The Hot Licksthat was the great thing about them. Sometimes Hicks would come on stage looking like Cab Calloway in a red jacket, rainbow tie and black hat. Next night he'd be in his psychedelic cowboy outfit. And he nearly always wore a sardonic look that said, "Don't take this serious, folks."
He kick-started the Haight-Ashbury scene in San Francisco in the 1960s, writing and singing jazzy songs with throwaway lyrics like "How Can I Miss You When You Won't Go Away?" and a tribute to gluttony, in which he candidly stated that if being in love meant he had to go on a diet, then "I Don't Want Love." Both are included here .
As more and more hippies invaded San Francisco, wearing flowers in their hair and lauding peace and love, Hicks' zany anthems became, at best, inappropriate.
He carried on with a wicked gleam in his eye and was one of the first people to recognize the talents of Tom Waits, recording one of his early numbers, "The Piano Has Been Drinkin.'" He followed it up with one of his own, "Hey Bartender," in which in slurred tones he asks the barkeep to lend him his car, something ill advised in our present politically correct times.
Dan Hicks wound up The Hot Licks in 1973, blaming the move, among other things, on "the inner demons that possess me, small, miniscule aliens from another planet." Rolling Stone led with the news.
In 1978 Hicks was back, with a solo album, It Happened One Bite, featuring unused tunes penned for a Ralph Bakshi animated film. He went on to record music for movies and TV and in the 1980s formed the Acoustic Warriors, playing folk, swing, jazz and country.
In 2000, he reformed the Hot Licks for an album titled Beatin' the Heat, featuring guests Tom Waits, Elvis Costello and Rickie Lee Jones.
Dan Hicks died in 2016, aged 74. Greatest Licks is a fitting memorial to a true original. It's also a whole lot of fun.
Strike It While It’s Hot; Where’s The Money?; That Ain’t Right; I Scare Myself; I Don’t Want Love; Tangled Tales; How Can I Miss You When You Won’t Go Away?; The Piano Has Been Drinkin’; That’s Where I Am; Hey Bartender; I Feel Like Singin’; The Blues My Naughty Baby Gave To Me.
Dan Hicks: vocals, guitar; Tony Garnier, Cliff Hugo, Kevin Smith, Randy Landas, Steve Alcott, Paul Smith, John Hunter: bass; Brian Godchaux, Novi Novoq, Richard Chon, Sid Page, Annabelle Cruz, Jesus Florido, Bruce Forman: violin; Brian Setzer, Gonzalo Bengara, Chuck Kavooras, Dave Bell, Denny Freeman, Gary Hoey, Paul Robinson, Tom Mitchell, Jay Leach: guitar; Dave Darling, David Jackson, Red Young, John Rosenberg, Mike Finnigan: keyboards; David Grisman, Brian Godchaux, Richard Chon: mandolin; Jay Leach: banjo, pedal steel; Jack Sheldon: trumpet; Jimmy Zavala: harmonica; David Jackson, Austin deLone, Van Dyke Parks: accordion; John Hunter: strings; Stephanie Fife: cello; Wendy Mull: tap dance; Daria, Roberta Donnay, Rickie Lee Jones, Susan Rabin, Annabelle Cruz, Bobbi Page, Jessica Harper, Karla DeVito, Darrell Reynolds, Eugene Hudson, James Dorsey, Robin Sayler: vocals; Gregg Bisonette, Jim Keltner, Brian Simpson, Bucket Baker: drums.
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