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Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks Beatin' The Heat Review

Album. Released 2003.  

BBC Review

Hicks (and his Hot Licks) has been titillating our ears now for nearly 35 years with...

Chris Jones 2003

The biggest tragedy surrounding this particular little piece of joy is that its taken two whole years for it to finally get a UK release. Presumably it's prompted by the fact that Mr Hicks has finally decided to return to these shores, but it's a sad sign of the times that we had to wait so long. Hicks (and his Hot Licks) has been titillating our ears now for nearly 35 years with his very own patent mixture of musical mischief, yet his name remains something of an obscurity. Let's put that straight shall we?

Most students of rock history will know Hicks for two reasons. One: he was drummer with the original West Coast psychedelic band, the Charlatans (no, not the dull Manchester miseries) and two: he wrote Thomas Dolby's hit ''I Scare Myself'' (of which there is a splendid new version on this album). What they may not tell you is that Hicks and his band have been responsible for some of the coolest, jazziest, swingingest,most unclassifiable music of all time.

Hicks' songs are always bursting with good humour and an irrepressible sense of fun. You'd expect nothing less from the man who once penned ''How Can I Miss You (If You Won't Go Away)?''. Sure enough, Beatin' The Heat boasts a wealth of amusing little toe-tappers such as ''Hell, Id Go!'' (a plea to be abducted by aliens), ''He Don't Care'' (an ode to a stoner with ''a different coloured headband for every day of the week'') and the closer, ''I've Got A Capo On My Brain''.

That's not to say that Hicks is a slouch in the music department either. Aided by celebrity pals such as Rickie Lee Jones (''I Scare Myself''), Tom Waits(whose composition "The Piano Has Been Drinking" is also included), Elvis Costello, Brian Setzer (on fine six-string form) and even Bette Midler (wonderfully restrained, for a change, on ''Strike It While It's Hot!''); this is good-time music made better by a band who swing every which way. Hicks' trademark backing vocal arrangements (courtesy Of Jessica Harper and Karla De Vito) add to the frolics and the production even contains a couple of samples and loops for a mild updating of the formula. In other words it was worth the wait. Welcome back Dan...

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