Rhythm Rhyme And Truth

Deke Dickerson And The Ecco-Fonics

HMG Records, 2000


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Deke Dickerson is a man who recognizes that change is sometimes good. He could have rested on the laurels of the success of his previous two albums and made another disc which was light-hearted and kitschy. But circumstances would lead to his third album, Rhythm Rhyme And Truth, to be a darker look at life (with an occasional light moment thrown in), but proves to be Dickerson's most mature effort yet.

After experiencing a rather nasty streak of bad luck in his personal life (which is briefly mentioned in the liner notes), Dickerson apparently decided to get somewhat serious with this release. No more Billy Barty appearances; no more "Beverly Hillbillies" voice-overs... no more fun? We'll get back to that question in a minute.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Working more closely with labelmate Carl Sonny Leyland, Dickerson quickly gets down to business and begins baring his soul for the world to see. It's sometimes a difficult picture to take in, but one has to admire the way that Dickerson tackles adversity through some powerful music - and in the end, it's a journey well worth taking. Whether it's through cover versions ("Have Blues Will Travel", "Don't Push Me Too Far", "Hello Blues") or it's the blunt force of his own compositions ("Where to Aim," "Where Am I Goin'?"), Dickerson creates music that you'll remember long after you stopped tapping your foot to it.

By doing this, Dickerson has helped himself break out of any musical pigeonholing that people might have done with his previous work. This isn't rockabilly in the strictest sense of the word, but it's also not country. Even "roots-rock" doesn't quite act as the right sized blanket. In the end, each listener will find themselves taking with them a certain portion of Dickerson's music; this will differ with each listener. If anything, this should help to broaden Dickerson's fanbase.

But not everything is tears and warm Michelob on Rhythm Rhyme And Truth; Dickerson and the Ecco-Fonics (along with the doo-wop group The Calvanes, who make a few appearances on this disc) know when the right time is to open up the pressure valve and release everything that's built up. Tracks like "(If I Go To Heaven) Give Me A Brunette," "Wang Dang Dula" and "C-A Boogie" all serve as bridges to Dickerson's musical past. Why, I can almost even forgive the "hidden" track buried at the end of "Where Am I Goin'?", even though there's far too much silence between the fade-out and the final kick-in for me.

Rhythm Rhyme And Truth is an album that Dickerson had to make, if only to keep some level of sanity around his life. We should be thankful that he did make this disc - and hope that he won't have to go through any more personal upheaval in order to keep making music this powerful.

Rating: B+

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© 2000 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of HMG Records, and is used for informational purposes only.