Artist: James Luther Dickinson
Album: I’m Just Dead, I’m Not Gone
Label: Memphis International Records
Release Date: 04.04.2017
James Luther “Jim” Dickinson was many things—a performer, a producer, a songwriter, a band leader, and session player—but one thing he wasn’t was a refined musician who played by the rules. Despite decades of work in support of others and several notable albums that featured him at the helm of his various ensembles, he tended to be rowdy, raucous and irreverent, a true son of the south that seemingly took no gruff from anyone.
That attitude is evidenced on this posthumous expanded rerelease of the last album Dickinson cut prior to his recent passing. With sons Luther and Cody, otherwise known as the North Mississippi Allstars, playing in support, Dickinson delivered roughhewn rockers, blues, ballads and boogie woogie before an adoring crowd at the New Daisy Theatre on Beale Street, Memphis. The booze-soaked atmosphere makes a perfect backdrop for the tattered delivery of the everyman anthem “Redneck, Blue Collar,” the loose-limbered “Hadacol Boogie” and the surprisingly sentimental ballad “Somewhere Down the Road,” but it’s the off-the-cuff performances and abject informality that makes even an off-key rendition of “Midnight Rider” appear appropriate.
If honesty and authenticity counted for anything other than an occasional anecdote, then I’m Just Dead, I’m Not Gone would, as its title suggests, ensure some sort of immortality. Nevertheless, it’s a durable document by a musician who clearly deserves the status of a legend.