26 songs from Dixon's 1948-1950 sessions for Modern are compiled here, mostly taken from singles that appeared on Modern between 1949 and 1951, but also including seven previously unissued tracks. These were Dixon's first recordings, but his style was already in place, both on uptempo jump blues and ballads, sounding like fellow Los Angeles-based pianist Charles Brown on the slower tunes. This would rate a little below the compilations of his later 1950s sides for Specialty and Capitol, as those include his best and best-known recordings, such as "Hey Bartender," "Wine, Wine, Wine," "Call Operator 210," and "Tired, Broke and Busted." This remains quality transitional West Coast blues, from that time when jazz and blues were intersecting to shape R&B, a movement that had Modern artists such as Dixon at the forefront. Modern session musicians such as saxophonist Maxwell Davis and guitarists Tiny Webb and Chuck Norris were sympathetic and sometimes exciting accompanists for Dixon on his Modern dates. As is the case with compilations of Modern R&B from this period, though, the songs do sometimes get too close to each other in arrangement and mood when they're grouped together en masse. This includes his first R&B hit (and biggest for Modern), the slow "Dallas Blues," although the peppier jump blues are definitely more interesting.
Cow Town Blues Review
by Richie Unterberger