I picked up two albums by Don Nix from Dollarland just to see what they were like. This album in particular piqued my interest because of the rather expensive looking cover, and the fact that it's on Elektra Records at a pretty interesting period (early '70s). The cover is a fold-out, with part of the front cover stamped out and a textured felt-like application is placed in the middle of the frame. Looks like nobody made a profit on this one, but it's a great idea. Nix is dressed up like a Civil War soldier (a popular early '70s Americana thing to do). Very dapper lad, that Don.
Musically, the former Mar-Keys member (the Mar-Keys went on to be Booker T & the MG's after Nix left the band) is better known for being a producer at Muscle Shoals but he's a bit of the elusive Forrest Gump type of character that was in a lot of places during the '70s without really being known. He put together the choir of George Harrison's Bangladesh concert, worked with all kinds of different people, and yet remains mostly unknown. Even as a solo artist with a dozen or so albums to his name there's not a lot out there on the man.
This album was his second solo album, and it bears a striking resemblance to the music that the Band was doing, that the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band was doing, that the Creedence Clearwater Revival was doing. For every moment it rises above the atypical it is stymied by a sluggish version of "I Saw The Light" (NOT the Todd Rundgren song, the Gospel song!!). The several songs that rock a bit are fine, early, Southern rock ditties, and moments of grand levity. The other stuff, however, is brutally serious like the song "She Don't Need a Lover (She Just Needs a Friend)" or extremely Band-ish like "My Trains Done Come and Gone." As a Southerner Nix has a bigger claim on authenticity than the Canadian ex-pats but he just doesn't have the same bite. Despite the company of players (all Muscle Shoals players like Donal Duck Dunn, Roger Hawkins and Barry Beckett) his background in the Stax scene is not very evident. Given the climate of radio in 1971, it's possible Jac Holzman might have thought he heard a hit here somewhere, but even then he must've been thinking "you want to spend how much on a felt inlay cover???". I know I am!
the lunatic is: going back to iuka
happy sad?: contemplative
what is that?: don nix