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Posted: June 24, 2009

Jimi Hendrix and the Turtles, Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks & the New York Dolls

Reviews of new music and a music documentary

Mike Cote

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MY DINNER WITH JIMI (DVD) (Rhino)

I assumed this account of the Turtles’ adventures in England, after the single “Happy Together” became a No. 1 worldwide hit, would be a documentary. So I was pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be a biopic – a brilliantly conceived one brimming with heart and humor. Told through the perspective of lead singer Howard Kaylan, “My Dinner with Jimi” recounts the Turtles’ first trip overseas, focusing on the night the band partied with the Beatles in a trendy bar (and learned the Fab Four weren’t quite the heroes they expected).

It culminates with Kaylan’s after-hours odyssey drinking and dining with Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix, who was a star in England but had yet to have his debut album released in the United States. The film earned honors at several film festivals and deservedly so, thanks to a great cast of unknowns (George Wendt of “Cheers” fame has a small role) and that magic ingredient missing from far too many Hollywood projects: storytelling.

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DAN HICKS AND THE HOT LICKS Tangled Tales (Surf Dog)

Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks have always stood outside time. In the band’s first incarnation in the late ‘60s, its old-timey blend of jazz, country and pop contrasted sharply with the hard rock of their fellow San Francisco musicians freaking out in the Summer of Love.  Forty years later, Hicks still occupies a universe all his own, wrapping his good-humored songs with fiddle, string bass and steel guitar. Tap your toes to “The Blues My Naughty Baby Gave to Me” or sing along with the nonsense words of the scat-sung title track. And dig the accordion and the slide guitar on the funky cover of Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues.”

Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks perform at 8 p.m. Friday at the Soiled Dove in Denver. Tickets are $20 to $30.

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THE NEW YORK DOLLS Cause I Sez So (Rhino)

The 21st century edition of the New York Dolls, featuring original members singer David Johansen and guitarist Sylvain Sylvain, already has outlasted the original 1970s lineup (though original bass player Arthur Harold Kane died before the reunited Dolls really picked up steam.) And with the release of ‘Cause I Sez So, the band’s second album since resurfacing on disc in 2006, it also has equaled the output of the short-lived glam-punk heroes.

Who cares, right? What you really want to know is whether to spend your money on what could be an embarrassing and desperate lunge at fame.  I would submit as evidence to the contrary:  the hilarious intro to “Nobody Got No Business,” when Johansen proclaims “I’m David Jo and the Dolls from New York City. We like our Philly soul Chicago-style. Check it out!” Then the band fires up a funky call to arms that epitomizes everything this album and the Dolls are about: hard-driving rock ‘n’ roll that takes its cue from the same gut-bucket blues that drove the early Rolling Stones. (If there’s any doubt, check out “Muddy Bones” and “This is Ridiculous.”) It doesn’t hurt bringing back Todd Rundgren to produce. He was behind the boards for the Dolls’ 1973 debut and understands Johansen and company’s aesthetic. More fun than you could hope to expect at this late date.

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Mike Cote is the former editor of ColoradoBiz. E-mail him at mcote@cobizmag.com.

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