More Million $eller$

Deke Dickerson And The Ecco-Fonics

Hightone Records, 1999

http://www.dekedickerson.com

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 12/07/1999

Some musical pairings I will never understand no matter how long I live - take the duet between Elton John and RuPaul, for example. (Whoof, there goes three years' of therapy down the drain.)

So excuse me if I was a bit skeptical about any album that would feature Billy Barty - what kind of a disc would this, or could this, be? The answer comes quickly with Deke Dickerson and the Ecco-Fonics's latest release, More Million $eller$, which remains just kitsch enough to be hip.

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Back to Barty for a minute. His role in the album is limited to that of introducing the band at the start - as well as providing a few uncredited jokes at the end. (Sample: What does a bass player use for birth control? His personality. Cute - though I've heard "music reviewer" substituted for "bass player".) If anything, Barty is underused; in short (no, no, wait, bad choice of words...), he provides relief when it's needed.

Admittedly, there are times when the guest appearances get to be a little too much. Dickerson's duet with Hadda Brooks, "You're My Cadillac," is an excellent pairing, but one wonders what reason Jerry Scoggins, the original voice of the "Beverly Hillbillies" theme, is on this album other than Dickerson was able to land him. And the duet with Carl Sonny Leyland, "I Think You Got To Pay For That," is the only real weak link in the bunch.

Otherwise, Dickerson and his band turn on the charm through these rockabilly numbers. Tracks like "The Hatchet Man," "I'm A Wreck," "Mean Son Of A Gun" and "Red Headed Woman" all leave little doubt that rockabilly is still a viable form of music, even as rock music hits middle age. Dickerson and the Ecco-Fonics almost make you feel like the year is 1954, and the swing is the thing as they create a 41-minute party for you to enjoy.

Especially noteworthy are the two instrumental numbers, "Rockin' Gypsy" (on which Dickerson concentrates his effort on the mandolin-like portion of his double-neck guitar) and "Tropical Island Boogie Serenade". Both these tracks allow Dickerson and the band to really cut loose and allow the music to take over without burdening them with vocals. In effect, the guitars become the lead singers - and it's a pleasant exchange.

More Million $eller$ is the kind of album that might intrigue you by the schmaltz that is present throughout the disc - even down to the "radio spots" that make way for a few of Barty's jokes and a hidden track. But one listen to the disc, and you'll be coming back for more thanks to the musicianship of Dickerson and the Ecco-Fonics.

Rating: B+

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© 1999 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Hightone Records, and is used for informational purposes only.