Friday, November 20, 2009

Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks: How Can I Miss You When You Won't Go Away?

It’s Fun Fridays and my feature song is from Dan Hicks and his Hot Licks’ first album, “Original Recordings.” This tune has received its fair share of airplay on Dr. Demento’s show. The pertinent and rhetorical question Dan and the gang ask is “How Can I Miss You If You Don’t Go Away?”

My first experience with this band that defies categorization was with their second album, “Where’s the Money?” I briefly heard this album at my brother Chuck’s house during late 1973 and the music as well as the album’s cover prompted me to buy it in the first place. On second thought, it was primarily the cover that really intrigued me.

The LP's cover contained a strange collection of instruments. This musical menagerie includes the likes of Sid Page’s fiddle (mostly obscured), an Epiphone vintage guitar amplifier from the 30s or the 40s, a bowed zither called a Marx Pianolin, a bass drum with its head painted with a cheesy Hawaiian scene (despite there being no drummer in the band), Naomi Ruth Eisenberg’s fiddle, Dan Hicks’ Guild guitar, Jaime Leopold’s double bass, and a Gibson Style A mandolin.

I don't know, I always liked collections of instruments. I bought Pink Floyd's "Ummagumma" because the back cover had the band's equipment lined up on an air strip like it was the armaments of a fighter jet, but I digress.

Reverse of Pink Floyd's Ummagumma LP

Add to the mystique of this eclectic collection of Dan Hicks et al's instrumentation, the zoot suit era clothing and a custom designed cover package screamed to me from the record racks. It was even on Blue Thumb, an independent American label that I had become familiar with from recordings by Aynsley Dunbar’s Retaliation, Tyrannosaurus Rex, Dave Mason, and Mark-Almond. To beat it all, it was a live recording that was of studio quality.

So I bought it, loved it, and sought out more Hicks’ LPs. As the second album was my first, the first album was my second – boy that sounds like something quasi spiritual – I was introduced to the original lineup of the band and some of their earlier tunes including our feature today – “How Can I Miss You When You Won’t Go Away?” The 1969 album “Original Recordings” was his/their only record for CBS’ Epic label.

One writer described Hicks’ music as occurring at the “intersection of cowboy folk, jazz, country-swing, bluegrass, pop and gypsy music.” It won’t be for everyone, yet I believe most will at least find this ditty somewhat amusing.

Happy Friday (late as it might be) – tomorrow, I’ll feature the progressive rock/folk band Renaissance.

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