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Ronnie Dawson
Just Rockin’ & Rollin’,  Upstart CD 032, 1996

Rock’n’roll party

Ronnie Dawson, just one of the legendary rockabilly artists who claim to have invented the genre, won many new fans last year with an amazing performance on the Conan O’Brien show. That fact, coupled with cover art picturing a lean, mean madman in the Jack Palance vein, pretty much tells you all you need to know. This CD feels like the latest chapter of a long-running serial: you know what to expect, and the man delivers. Actually, I was a bit surprised the CD was such a masterpiece of simplicity–no fancy guitar licks, no hiccup-driven vocals, just a stripped-down Blasters sort of rockabilly. Dawson has mastered the art of writing simple rock’n’roll songs, who can sing "I’m a sucker for a cheap guitar" as if it’s a revelation. There’s a number of fine pieces on this set, including the lovely "Veronica," which could have been written by Buddy Holly. One of the best tunes, "Club Wig Wam" is regrettably spoiled by the racist lyrics you might guess from the title. While his hard-core prodigy labor to create such pointedly impolitic sentiments, Dawson himself seems completely oblivious. The world’s just a party to him, trapped forever in the late ’50s to early ’60s attitudes (see also his view of women). Still, Dawson’s crammed an awful lot of fun into these sixteen songs that take just under 50 minutes. It would be great if some of the late 60’s dinosaurs were still so vital.–  Bill Kuhn


Ronnie Dawson, vocals, guitar; Bruce Brand, drums; Naokazu "Mr. Tone" Tone, bass.

Copyright © 1997 Peppercorn Press. All rights reserved.