Dwane Dixon – Betting On A Gambling Man
9 songs – 37 minutes
Betting On A Gambling Man is Dwane Dixon’s third self-produced album, following in the footsteps of 2013’s Black Satin Blues and 2016’s Working Man’s Blues. The Canadian singer/guitarist/songwriter mines a series of classic blues-rock veins across nine self-written tracks, all played with an assertive muscularity and authority. While Dixon usually plays live in a trio, on Betting On A Gambling Man he handles all the instruments himself, providing vocals, guitar, bass, drums and keyboards as well as laying down a harp solo on “I Buried Your Bones.”
Dixon roars out of the traps with the opening wild rockabilly of the title track, which tells the true story of Dixon’s own father and his love of playing craps for money. He quickly follows it up with the ZZ Top-esque groove of “A World Of Hurt” and “Swallow That Pill”, which sounds like Queen’s “Tie Your Mother Down” if it had actually been written by Gibbons, Beard and Hill. He has a fine, powerful voice, is an adept guitar player and he lays down a series of elegantly rocky backbones on the different tracks.
“Ain’t No Big Thing” sees Dixon pull out his electric slide guitar while “I Buried Your Bones” has a country-folk feel, with its finger-picked acoustic guitar and mournful lyrics. A finger-picked acoustic guitar is the only instrumentation on the folky “Small Town Talking Blues”, while “Wanna Be Your Man” openly acknowledges its Howlin’ Wolf influence both lyrically and musically (think “You’ll Be Mine” updated and given a steroid injection). The raucous West Coast-via-The-Ramones of “Whiskey You Don’t Lie” has some gloriously frenetic playing although it is outdone by the closing instrumental, “The Awakening”, the least bluesy track on the album, which leans closer to heavy metal than classic rock. It also allows Dixon plenty of space to really stretch out on his guitar.
Dixon also produced Betting On A Gambling Man, which was recorded at Pink-Room Studios in Longueil, Quebec, and he captured a warm, natural sound and deserves significant credit for creating such a wide variety of sounds by himself.
Betting… is a pretty short album, coming in at just 37 minutes in length, but it also contains well-written blues-rock songs in a classic style, played with punch and attitude. “I Buried Your Bones” in particular is a gem of a song.
If you like classic riff-led blues-rock by the likes of George Thorogood and ZZ Top, you will definitely want to investigate this release.