West Side Chicago bluesman Johnny Dollar may just be someone that fate has
asked to live the blues far beyond any reasonable expectation. Just over
fifteen months ago, Johnny Dollar became a temporary "John Doe" when he was
hit by a car on the night of November 1, 1999. For three weeks after the
incident, Dollar was in a coma at Northwest Memorial Hospital in Chicago and
not one person knew his name. It wasn't until he was transferred to another
West Side Chicago hospital that someone finally discovered his wallet in the
bag of clothes that he was wearing when the accident occurred. With his
identity finally returned, Dollar had to deal with his significant injuries;
a broken pelvis, broken arm and a head injury that seriously effected his
memory and caused him to be confused and disoriented.
After months of rest and painful rehabilitation, Johnny Dollar was able to
return to the stage to perform on Thanksgiving Evening 2000; singing and
playing as a man who had experienced a miraculous rebirth. Less than three
months after his return to the stage Wolf Records released Dollar's first
recording in over a decade, My Baby Loves Me.
My Baby Loves Me demonstrates the power and talent possessed by Johnny
Dollar. Supported by a capable set of backing musicians including Herb
Walker (rhythm guitar), Johnny B. Gayden (bass), Leo Davis (keyboards) and
Willie "Touch" Hayes (drums), Dollar burns his way through a fine set of
music including blues, funk, soul and r+b. With the high caliber support of
The Scan-lus Band and several fine guest musicians, the exceptional quality
of this CD is not surprising.
Johnny Dollar is a self-proclaimed "bad man" who has chosen in recent years
to stick close to his home base, even though his talent suggests that he
should do otherwise. Songs like "Doing My Own Thing" and "Stop Doggin' Me"
seem to reflect Dollar's desire for independence. The CD is dominated by
well done covers and two original tunes; "Take My Heart" written by Dollar
(a.k.a., John L. Sibley) and "Scan-lus," which is written by the band. The
covers include straight-ahead blues tunes like Guitar Slim's "The Things I
Used To Do," horn-based soul ("That's The Way Love Is")and rhythm and blues
classics like "If Loving You Is Wrong (I Don't Want To Be Right" from the
Bobby Womack song catalog. The final cut, Dollar's version of the classic
"Funky Broadway" is a delightful horn filled number that offers some of
Dollar's best guitar. Interestingly, the band's instrumental, "Scan-lus,"
features a lead guitar solo by guest Robert Fetzer instead of Dollar.
My Baby Loves Me is an excellent effort by Johnny Dollar and a wonderful
testament to his ability to overcome tragedy and return to performing after
his near death experience. One can only hope that My Baby Loves Me is
the first of many new releases by Johnny Dollar in the coming years. My Baby
Loves Me is available through the Wolf Records website, www.wolfrec.com,
along with many fine music retailers and e-tailers. Pick up a copy and
experience the magic of West Side bluesman Johnny Dollar.
This review is copyright © 2001 by Dave "Doc" Piltz, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.
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