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July 1998

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Buy Big Sandy's CD today


Big Sandy
Dedicated To You

Big Sandy sings doo wopDedicated To You is, without a doubt, the surprise CD of the month. I was familiar with Big Sandy's hillbilly swing band, The Fly-Rite Boys, from their two previous albums for Hightone. Great music, but pretty far away from the blues genre. Without first reading the liner notes, I popped the disc into my CD player not expecting to be reviewing this one for Blues Bytes.

But it wasn't the usual country twang coming from the speakers. Instead, Big Sandy was singing doo wop. I then took a closer look at the CD, and noticed that the artist was paying tribute to his other musical passion --- rhythm & blues. If you've always been into the West Coast R&B  groups like The Robins, Richard Berry, etc., or if you're one of the many young hipsters now grooving to retro swing music, then you need to pick up a copy of Dedicated To You.

Big Sandy (aka Robert Williams) sounds like he was born to sing this music. He does 15 covers of mostly obscure R&B hits from the 50s, with one new original, "Baby Baby Me."

The Calvanes, who had a few hit singles for Dootone Records in the 50s, provide background vocals. Another special guest is Dewey Terry, of Don & Dewey fame, and he and Big Sandy share the vocals on that duo's big hit "I'm Leavin' It All Up To You."

Vicky Tafoya guests on several numbers, including a duet with Sandy on the Oscar McLollie/Jeanette Baker classic "Hey Girl - Hey Boy."

I've always loved the early stuff from Richard Berry (yes, he did more than just "Louie Louie"), so one of my favorite cuts is Sandy's cover of the frantic "Yama Yama Pretty Mama." Another song on the CD written by Berry, but originally recorded for Specialty by Arthur Lee Maye & The Crowns, is "Gloria." This version's every bit the tearjerker as the original.

Big Sandy doesn't try to plow any new ground with Dedicated To You. But just like when these tunes were first recorded 40 years ago, this is fun party music. Enjoy!

- Bill Mitchell

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