DAN HICKS & THE HOT LICKS
For his new album, "Selected Shorts," Dan Hicks dug through his 39-year career and came up with several original songs that were half-written and several standards that were half-arranged. He finished them, signed up the Manhattan Transfer's Tim Hauser and Asleep at the Wheel's Ray Benson as co-producers, recruited guest singers Willie Nelson, Jimmy Buffett and the Butthole Surfers' Gibby Haynes, and assembled a new version of the Hot Licks that included longtime fiddler Sid Page, session drummer Jim Keltner, Brian Wilson arranger Van Dyke Parks and Bob Dylan bassist Tony Garnier.
Hicks isn't as graceful singer as Nelson nor as primitive as Haynes, but the Bay Area legend is a perfect match for Buffett; both men emphasize easygoing string-band arrangements, a good-humored appreciation of hedonism, and garish beach shirts. Hicks and Buffett sing a duet on "Barstool Boogie," and Buffett's spirit infuses such Hicks compositions as "Hey Bartender," "First I Lost My Marbles" and "Texas Kinda Attitude." Like Buffett's recent albums, "Selected Shorts" is marked by inconsistent songwriting, loose arrangements, a country spin on swing and soft-rock, and the kind of genial jokiness that's as easy to enjoy as it is difficult to remember.
-- Geoffrey Himes
Appearing Wednesday at the Barns of Wolf Trap. * To hear a free Sound Bite from Dan Hicks, call Post-Haste at 301-313-2200 and press 8104. (Prince William residents, call 703-690-4110.)