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Big Sandy

Dedicated to You – 1998 (HighTone)

Reviewed by Rachel Leibrock

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CDs by Big Sandy

Crooning and swinging his way through 15 classics (as well as one original), Big Sandy pays respect to the golden age of '50s R&B without his usual backing band The Fly-Rite Boys. Backed up by a diversity of stellar musicians including saxophonist Cad Kadison and members of the '50's group the Calvanes and Dewey Terry of the Don and Dewey, the album is a spirited, sometimes scorching update on a timeless sound.

From his delicately beautiful duet with Vicky Tafoya on "Baby Baby Me" to stirring renditions of low rider classics such as "Hey Senorita" and "Oochie Coochie" Big Sandy's colossal character sparkles and shines. Sadly, the original concept of this was to provide a modern forum for R&B innovator Richard Berry who composed the classic "Louie Louie." Berry passed away before the album's recording but the album carries on his name with the inclusion of songs wrote, produced or recorded such as "Yama Yama Pretty Mama," "Have Love Will Travel" and "Gloria." Pianist Dewey Terry (legendary for his songwriting talent, he and brother Don penned such classics as "Koko Joe" and "Big Boy Pete") boldly handles the chops originally meant for Berry. Of course, the true center of is Big Sandy. His rich, polished vocals and assured yet never overbearing poise further establish him as a modern day leader of the pack.