Jim Dickinson Rides Again; Vernon Wray's Wasted
JIM DICKINSON RIDES AGAIN
Oxford, Miss., didn't host typical college circuit tours in the '90s — Junior Kimbrough and R.L. Burnside played more often than good ol' Dave Matthews. And while coeds might not have realized the musical gold mine they were sitting on, brothers Cody and Luther Dickinson and Chris Chew did: The boys of North Mississippi Allstars were living with one of the blues-rock legends himself, their father, Jim Dickinson. Born in Little Rock but settling in Memphis, the pianist-singer became one of the most in-demand studio musicians in town, forming the Dixie Flyers, the band that backed many legendary Atlantic recording sessions, and popping up again and again in rock history milestones (that's his piano on the Stones' "Wild Horses," and his tea and sympathy all over Dylan's Time Out of Mind). Later, Dickinson produced Big Star's innovative, influential Third/Sister Lovers and set up his own studio, Zebra Ranch, in Hernando, Miss. With new album Keys to the Kingdom, the Allstars pay tribute to their "producer"(in all senses of the word) — their current tour is a sort of joyous Southern funeral for the William Eggleston–ian patriarch. Before passing away in 2009, Jim (aka Captain Memphis) wrote, "I will not be gone as long as the music lingers. World boogie is coming." Oh, yes, boys, make it come fast. North Mississippi Allstars, Roxy Theatre, Thurs., March 10, $15.
FOUND TREASURE: VERNON WRAY'S WASTED
You already know Link Wray for instrumental guitar rock songs like "Rumble," which was so gory and lascivious, it was actually barred from radio play in the late 1950s. But Link's brother Vernon Wray was right there all along, sidemanning in Link's backing band the Raymen. After years of roaring rock & roll, he helped record Link's unjustly forgotten '70s LPs in the famous "Wray's Shack Three Tracks" clapboard backyard studio in the Maryland woods. Then he packed up — Shack and all! — and split for the Arizona desert, where he put his studio back together. And in 1972, he released his own definitive solo statement/one-word title/statement of purpose: Wasted. It's an absolutely beautiful album and something you'd never expect from a guy who helped his brother get banned from the airwaves. On Wasted, Vernon is a basso-voiced truth-teller like Johnny Cash, a lonesome outsider folk genius like Skip Spence, a heartbroken poet like Leonard Cohen, a master of art-brut production like Lee Hazlewood and — like Dennis Wilson — an unexpected credit to a legendary family surname. Just weeks ago we were saying at Page Two headquarters in scenic Culver City that someone should reissue the sucker. Guess what? Tennessee label Sebastian Speaks just put it out on vinyl. Go get it now.
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