Don Nix ‎– Going Down: Songs Of Don Nix (2002)

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The legendary R&B songwriter who penned at least one undeniable classic in this album’s title track returns from nearly a decade-long retirement, calls in some notable friends, and re-records a handful of his better songs under the watchful eye of producer Jon Tiven (Wilson Pickett, tribute albums to Otis Blackwell and Curtis Mayfield). His voice is an acquired taste, and the majority of these tunes are performed as standard swamp rock fare, yet this is a decent career recap from the 60-something musician/producer/songwriter. Although Leon Russell (who gave Don Nix his biggest break by hiring him to produce and write songs for Freddie King) is conspicuously M.I.A., old Mar-Keys bandmate Steve Cropper is aboard, as are friends Dan Penn, Bonnie Bramlett, John Mayall, Tony Joe White, and Bobby Whitlock. Queen’s Brian May even guests (overdubbed) on a track, as does Mountain man Leslie West. For better or worse, none of these marquee names are particularly prominent in the mix. The majority of the tracks are dominated by Nix’s solid studio band which includes ex-Double Trouble man Reese Wynans on organ, guitarist Tiven, Wet Willie keyboardist Mike Duke, and Muscle Shoals legend David Hood on bass. Even with some good songs, it’s obvious why Nix’s previous solo albums — all but one of which remain out of print as of 2002 — never made much of an impression. His thin vocals are non-descript at best, and off-key at worst. Nix’s own versions of these songs remain inferior to the more famous covers from Freddie King, Albert King, John Mayall, and Jeff Beck. A few new compositions, like the surging “One More Repossession,” chug along with moderate energy and enthusiasm, but even though everyone seems to be trying their hardest, sparks just don’t fly during the majority of the album. Label owner Jerry Gordon’s liner notes provide a short but snappy synopsis of Nix’s colorful life and the 12-page booklet includes rare historical snapshots. Ultimately, this is a well-intentioned project with some unpretentious, rootsy performances that just never gets off the ground.

Tracklist:

1. Black Cat Moan
2. On the Road Again
3. Right Where You Want Me
4. Same Old Blues
5. Lucinda
6. Palace of the King
7. Going Home
8. Going Back to Luka
9. Like a Road Leading Home
10. One More Repossession
11. Living on the Highway
12. Plastic Flowers
13. Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven