Personnel: Jimmy Davis, Luther Dickinson (guitar); Cody Dickinson (drums).
Audio Mixer: Kevin Houston .
Liner Note Author: Luther Dickinson.
Recording information: New Daisey Theater, Memphis, TN (06/02/2006).
Photographer: David Less.
Despite Memphis music enigma Jim Dickinson's long, winding, illustrious, and infamous musical career as a musician and producer, he never released a live in Memphis album. Until now that is. I'm Just Dead, I'm Not Gone fills that gap in his catalog. Recorded in 2006 at the New Daisy Theater on Beale Street in Memphis, the album pairs the music legend on piano and lead vocals with his kids' band, the North Mississippi Allstars (Luther Dickinson, guitar; Cody Dickinson, drums; Chris Chew, bass), and special guest Jimmy Davis on rhythm guitar and backing vocals in a riotous set of blues, R&B, and country covers played at maximum speed and volume. It was all captured in the moment -- without further window dressing -- by Kevin Houston. From the elder Dickinson's poignantly surreal poem that opens Sir Mack Rice's "Money Talks" (in which, at 90 mph, he discusses everything from prayer, George W. Bush, honey, bad whiskey, and money), the proceedings are off to an uproarious start. It's raw and non-stop. While everything here works exactly as it should, there are some real standouts. The snaky blues cover of Buffy Sainte Marie's "Codine" is among the most original readings of the tune ever, with ghostly piano and Luther's deep blues lead guitar. The rocked-up party blues in Furry Lewis' "Kassie Jones" is another. Things get country-fried on Bob Frank's "Red Neck, Blue Collar" and Terry Fell's anthem "Truck Drivin' Man." Closer "Down in Mississippi" features a smoking extended guitar break by Luther, who shines throughout. But the real star is the man the album is named after. His command of the proceedings is no less authoritative than Jerry Lee Lewis' and just as unhinged as Charlie Feathers'. A cursory listen will offer the mistaken impression that this is a glorified bar gig. That said, a slightly deeper one will yield proof of Dickinson's prophetic, historical genius: in his persona and practice, he embodies the crossroads of all American roots song forms, from folk and blues to R&B and rock. His advice for his sons -- ...It's okay to rush, but don't drag..." -- is proven here time and again. At a shade over 42 minutes, I'm Just Dead, I'm Not Gone is a concise yet fully fleshed, sweaty, grimy, gritty exercise in everything that is truly great about rock & roll. ~ Thom Jurek