Album: Dan Hicks &amp; The Hot Licks <!-- none onestar twostar threestar fourstar fivestar -->

Selected Shorts, SURFDOG
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The Independent Culture

After an early stint as the drummer with the seminal West Coast hippie band The (original) Charlatans, Dan Hicks has ploughed the most idiosyncratic of musical furrows with his own quirky adaptations of Forties small-combo swing stylings. With the master violinist Sid Page at the heart of The Hot Licks, and the female backing singers The Lickettes expanded to a quartet, Selected Shorts is the strongest set Hicks has done since the great Seventies live album Where's the Money?, full of the frothy joie de vivre and facetious lyrical drollerie signalled by titles like "Cue the Violins" and "First I Lost My Marbles" (which features a cartoonish chipmunk choir). The opener "Mama's Boy Blues" is in typical Hicksville style, a slippery, shuffling slice of cowboy swing that comes across like some throwback blend of Hoagy Carmichael, The Andrews Sisters, and, thanks to the enlisting of the gypsy-guitar virtuoso Gonzalo Bergara alongside Page's rhapsodic jazz violin, the Hot Club of France Quintet. Lovely, peppy covers of "C'mon-a-My-House" and "I'll See You in My Dreams" (complete with berserk scat section) incorporate sly lyrical updatings through references to four-slice toasters and leather recliners. This is guaranteed to put a smile back on one's face.