PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Music

Deke Dickerson & The Ecco-fonics: Rhythm Rhyme and Truth

Chuck Hicks

Deke Dickerson & the Ecco-fonics

Rhythm Rhyme and Truth

Label: Hightone
US Release Date: 2000-10-05
Amazon
iTunes

With a name like Deke Dickerson, only three vocational options exists: Air Force test pilot, high school girls' basketball coach, or roots rocker. Given that the first two choices are decidedly dangerous, Dickerson appears to have made the right career choice. He is one of the growing stable of artists at Hightone, a label that is rapidly becoming synonymous with contemporary Americana music. While rockabilly revivalists are plentiful, there are few that push its idiosyncrasies full register like Dickerson.

Rhythm Rhyme and Truth is Dickerson's third excursion into rockabilly, and it's a collection notably darker than his previous offerings. All but two of the album's 16 tracks were recorded in fake mono, filled with plenty of reverb and echo to achieve a vintage mid-'50s sound. A splendid picker, Dickerson is the current monarch in the small kingdom of double-necked guitars. Back-ups include an upright bass, a Danelectro "tic-tac" bass, and Jerry Lee Lewis-style piano chops courtesy of Carl Sonny Leyland.

Dickerson wrote nine of the tracks; the covers include the Johnny Cash-esque "Have Blues Will Travel," "I'm Lonesome," and a bopping rendition of Grandpa Jones' "Hello Blues." On the surface the music evokes nostalgia -- saddle oxfords/bobbie socks/skirts flying above the waist numbers. Typical rock 'n' roll themes are present: seeking, finding, and losing love. Despite the rollicking, however, there's a subtle sarcasm, a hidden smirk, a lurking violence beneath the sock-hop facade that would make this record an appropriately sardonic soundtrack for the '50s driver's ed shocker Death on the Highway. For example, on the honky-tonkin' "Where to Aim," Dickerson drawls like a young Conway Twitty to lyrics that could have been penned by Unknown Hinson:

"I hold the pistol to my head then point it at the door
It makes no sense 'cause I know she ain't coming home no more
The daylight ends, the nighttime falls -- the time I fear the most
The man that's in the mirror looks like he's seen a ghost
There's no one I can turn to, the shadows call my name
I hold the pistol in my hand but don't know where to aim..."

I tried listening to this album in the dark, and all I could visualize were grainy images of young white greasers in Birmingham during the long hot summer of 1965; leering, laughing, making threatening gestures at the camera. Well, perhaps that is this reviewer's own unhealthy subconscious coming out. Dickerson is, after all, a former surf music buff relocated in sunny California. There are occasional light-hearted moments on this disc, like the satirical "(If I Go to Heaven) Give Me a Brunette" and the acoustic romp "C-A Boogie." But a cursory listen will find Dickerson, perhaps unintentionally, exposing the creepier side of rockabilly latent but not so obvious in the '50s.

Rhythm Rhyme and Truth is a captivating and disturbing exercise in one of the 20th century's transitional musical forms. Cleverly conceived and brilliantly performed, it's a juke-box jumper you and your sweetheart can cut a rug to -- and hopefully not each other.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Books

Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.

Film

In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.

Music

The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.

Television

The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.

Music

The 20 Best Tom Petty Songs

With today's release of Tom Petty's Wildflowers & All the Rest (Deluxe Edition), we're revisiting Petty's 20 best songs.

Joshua M. Miller
Music

The 11 Greatest Hits From "Greatest Hits" Compilations

It's one of the strangest pop microcosms in history: singles released exclusively from Greatest Hits compilations. We rounded 'em up and ranked 'em to find out what is truly the greatest Greatest Hit of all.

Music

When Punk Got the Funk

As punks were looking for some potential pathways out of the cul-de-sacs of their limited soundscapes, they saw in funk a way to expand the punk palette without sacrificing either their ethos or idea(l)s.

Music

20 Hits of the '80s You Might Not Have Known Are Covers

There were many hit cover versions in the '80s, some of well-known originals, and some that fans may be surprised are covers.

Music

The Reign of Kindo Discuss Why We're Truly "Better Off Together"

The Reign of Kindo's Joseph Secchiaroli delves deep into their latest single and future plans, as well as how COVID-19 has affected not only the band but America as a whole.

Books

Tommy Siegel's Comic 'I Hope This Helps' Pokes at Social Media Addiction

Jukebox the Ghost's Tommy Siegel discusses his "500 Comics in 500 Days" project, which is now a new book, I Hope This Helps.

Music

Kimm Rogers' "Lie" Is an Unapologetically Political Tune (premiere)

San Diego's Kimm Rogers taps into frustration with truth-masking on "Lie". "What I found most frustrating was that no one would utter the word 'lie'."

Music

50 Years Ago B.B. King's 'Indianola Mississippi Seeds' Retooled R&B

B.B. King's passion for bringing the blues to a wider audience is in full flower on the landmark album, Indianola Mississippi Seeds.

Film

Filmmaker Marlon Riggs Knew That Silence = Death

In turning the camera on himself, even in his most vulnerable moments as a sick and dying man, filmmaker and activist Marlon Riggs demonstrated the futility of divorcing the personal from the political. These films are available now on OVID TV.

Film

The Human Animal in Natural Labitat: A Brief Study of the Outcast

The secluded island trope in films such as Cast Away and television shows such as Lost gives culture a chance to examine and explain the human animal in pristine, lab like, habitat conditions. Here is what we discover about Homo sapiens.

Music

Bad Wires Release a Monster of a Debut with 'Politics of Attraction'

Power trio Bad Wires' debut Politics of Attraction is a mix of punk attitude, 1990s New York City noise, and more than a dollop of metal.

Music

'Waiting Out the Storm' with Jeremy Ivey

On Waiting Out the Storm, Jeremy Ivey apologizes for present society's destruction of the environment and wonders if racism still exists in the future and whether people still get high and have mental health issues.

Music

Matt Berninger Takes the Mic Solo on 'Serpentine Prison'

Serpentine Prison gives the National's baritone crooner Matt Berninger a chance to shine in the spotlight, even if it doesn't push him into totally new territory.

Music

MetalMatters: The Best New Heavy Metal Albums of September 2020

Oceans of Slumber thrive with their progressive doom, grind legends Napalm Death make an explosive return, and Anna von Hausswolff's ambient record are just some of September's highlights.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.