For most of my generation, Dan Hicks was our first exposure to swing music that was anywhere near cool enough to be palatable. That he could slip into progressive rock radio playlists surrounded by the likes of Led Zeppelin and Cream is a tribute to the zany power of his music. While most of his contemporaries have become the domain of musical triviaologists and “Classic Rock” dinosaur worshippers, Hick’s music is as fresh and exciting today as the day it was released.
Sony’s Legacy division had a tough time bringing The Most Of… to completion. According to producer Al Quaglieri, some of the original mixdowns were so badly damaged that the five cuts from Hick’s first Epic album had to be remixed from the eight-track session masters. Personally, I prefer these remixes, as they have a certain clarity and added detail the originals lack. Hick’s masterpiece “I Scare Myself” has greater power because the dynamics and intricacies of the mix are easier to hear.
Along with nine selections from his first release, Most of… has seven unreleased original versions of songs that subsequently found their way to later albums. Hicks’ original band included Sid Page on violin, Jon Weber playing guitar, Jaimie Leopold on stand-up acoustic bass, and Sherry Snow and Tina Gancher as backup vocalists. Their command of this new-old music may be equaled by modern groups like the Hot Band of Cowtown, but no one has surpassed their ability to swing with both passion and control.
Some “best of” releases are all about nostalgia. The Most Of… is different. Instead of a trip down memory lane, it’s about rediscovery. Hicks music is timelessly hip and obscenely infectious. You’ll definitely be listening to this CD 20 years down the road. – SS
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Aug. ’01 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.