It's only natural that Alex Dixon would become a blues musician. After all, his grandfather was the legendary blues artist, Willie Dixon. Dixon's new album, The Real McCoy, mixes tracks written by Alex Dixon along with a handful of numbers penned by his famous grandfather. Keeping in the family tradition, Alex's 13-year-old daughter, Leila, makes her vocal debut singing backup on "Nothing New Under The Sun." It all adds up to a strong album steeped in the electric Chicago blues tradition.
Dixon's band is top notch as well. Vocalist Lewis "Big Lew" Powell is a powerhouse and Steve Bell is a potent harmonica player. If that wasn't enough, Sugar Blue, who played with The Rolling Stones on "Miss You," among other tracks, adds his killer harmonica licks to three songs. Dixon plays bass and piano while Melvin Taylor and Gino Matteo make a formidable guitar duo. All the players have a passion for this music and it comes through in the recordings.
The album opens with "Nothing New Under The Sun," a heavy electric blues song in the vein of "Hoochie Coochie Man" that also features Joey Delgado on guitar. Powell delivers a gritty vocal and the guitar tones are biting, complimenting a strong harmonica solo from Bell. Willie Dixon's "Spider In My Stew" follows and showcases Blue on harmonica. This laid back track has some fantastic interplay between the guitars and harmonica and a passionate vocal from Powell.
On the title track, the band locks into a tight groove with a slinky guitar riff with Bell shining on harmonica while "10,000 Miles Away" shows off the band's funkier side with a confident vocal from Powell. Bell and Powell really shine on "My Greatest Desire," a slow ballad, while the guitars take center stage on Willie Dixon's "Howlin' For My Darling," a song that also includes a gritty vocal performance from Powell.
The album closes with "Chi-Town Boogie," a mostly instrumental track that recalls The J. Geils Band's "Whammer Jammer." Where the band spends much of the album playing for the song, they really get a chance to let loose on this track. A fully instrumental version is included as a bonus track that truly showcases the musicianship of the group. An additional bonus track, "I Want To Be Loved," is a mid-tempo track with an ascending riff and some strong guitar leads.
On The Real McCoy, Alex Dixon honors his late grandfather's spirit with a strong album that celebrates his Chicago blues roots. The record is full of strong vocals and killer musicianship and one can hear the joy these musicians have in playing these songs. Highly recommended.