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Jimmy Lee Fautheree

I Found the Doorknob – 2004 (Ecco-Fonic)

Reviewed by Jon Johnson

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CDs by Jimmy Lee Fautheree

Best known as half of the country duo Jimmy & Johnny back in the '50s, "I Found the Doorknob" marks what are probably Jimmy Lee Fautheree's first new solo recordings since the release of a handful of gospel singles in the early '70s.

The good news is Fautheree's choice of backing band: Deke Dickerson and the Ecco-Fonics, who are perfect for the task. Jimmy & Johnny's proto-rockabilly sound was a major influence on Dickerson's old band, the Dave & Deke Combo, and Dickerson and his group do an admirable job of reproducing the rockin' hillbilly sound of the old Jimmy & Johnny records.

Dickerson turns in some typically fine guitar work and harmony singing here, but the one who really shines is Fautheree, who is in surprisingly good form, probably due to still being active as a gospel singer. Fautheree's guitar playing is also superb. Dickerson has pointed out that Fautheree's guitar playing was the missing link between Merle Travis and Lightnin' Hopkins, and this seems to be an accurate observation.

The track which will probably attract the most attention is the title track; a Dickerson co-write and a sequel to Jimmy & Johnny's "I Can't Find the Doorknob." Also on tap are a handful of numbers performed - but not recorded - by Jimmy & Johnny, including "I'm Gonna Cry (When I Call Your Name)."

A fine comeback from an artist who shouldn't have stayed away so long. (Box 304, Hollywood, Cal. 90078)