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THE CRAWDADDY Nice Bones Ejecta Records (2011)

The Crawdaddy

I loved this album from the moment it slipped on to my machine, as it its full of vim, vigor, imagination and fun. It only gradually slips away from its inspired start with a couple of obvious covers, but even these are infused with different takes on songs that are given 'The Crawdaddy' groove.

There's a joyous mix of dance floor grooves, sparkling guitar lines, cool organ work, a real soulful feel with dollops of funk and a subtle variety of vocal styles that draw you in. And just as I was thinking, wow this is really interesting, Richard Dance has the audacity to cover Greg Allman's 'Dreams', a song I've not hear for years but love. And while Dance's contemporary cover doesn't quite emulate the original, he brings a quietly whispered vocal and a subtle wash to it, replacing Allman's original emotive reading with a more coolly detached version that is fleshed out with brooding organ, concise guitar, delicate percussion and is anchored by two drummers.

So I ask myself who the hell is Richard Dance? He appears to get his current inspiration from his architectural concepts of - can you believe it - 'groove, energy, tone & space' -except he sees them as 'building material' that GETS the job done' And listening to this album, you can see why. What is equally relevant though is Dance's own background which is rooted Phoenix, Az (hence the inclusion of the great Chuck Hall on guitar sparring of 'Young Boy'), some dirty stumbling New Orleans funk and touches of his Florida sun drenched 'Crawdaddy' approach, especially on 'DNA' and as he tells us on the Ray Charles's Florida gospel of 'I Got A Woman'.

But stop right there, because the vocals on 'DNA' sounds like mid 70's Rupert Hine and Quantum Jump's 'The Lone Ranger', and that's even more so on the 'na na na na' led 'Wee JT', before he leans into some fractured lilting funk on 'Tunnel Vision'. The latter doesn't quite work as well as what's gone before, but delivers another clever rap.

By the time of Fats Domino's 'Blue Monday' it sounds like he's running out of ideas but Richard still has the integrity to clothe them in original arrangements. And it is this delightfully warped way of looking at all things musical that provides the album with its left field appeal.

Nothing is too obvious and a succession of intricately woven musical ideas flesh out an album full of well crafted ideas that breathe fresh life into rock and blues standards and find further expression in 5 original songs. Thus ZZ Tops 'Just Got Paid' is totally transformed into something more interesting than the original, while Little Feat's 'All That You Dream' makes the most of an up tempo arrangement which contrasts with the mellower reading of Ray Charles 'I Got A Woman'.

If Richard's art lies in simply seeing things in a different way then maybe a combination of running a sea food restaurant and years later working with buildings gave him a completely new perspective. From the opening dance floor friendly cover of Rufus Thomas's 'The Breakdown' to the closing instrumental triptych of the self penned title track, the multi instrumentalist Richard Dance aka The Crawdaddy, approaches his music with an unfettered joy de vivre and as a result the album sounds like a musical breath of fresh air.

He has translated his musical vision into something you'd want to hear on a breezy summer's day. 'Nice Bones' has a lovely flow and unhurried feel to it with some intimate close to the mic vocals, delicate guitar lines and poised organ work with just enough space for star turns from Chuck Hall on guitar, Diana Lee on vocals, Greg Warner on drums and Jerry Donato on sax. 'Nice Bones' is the kind of album you'll groove to within the first minute of the opening track. By the second track you are asking yourself who is that? And on that basis alone you owe it to yourself to check out a well played, thoughtfully arranged and superbly produced good time album with a twist.


Review by Pete Feenstra


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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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