By James Calemine
Songwriter Don Nix’s release, I Don’t Want No Trouble!, should attract a wide audience of music fans. Nix, an obscure music hero, helped create ‘The Memphis Sound’ by playing with Booker T & The MGs and other STAX musicians like Carla Thomas and William Bell.
In one way or another, Nix has worked with The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Band, The Staple Singers, Albert King, Furry Lewis, Lonnie Mack, George Harrison, Charlie Musselwhite, Little Milton, Leon Russell, Freddy King, Eric Clapton, Isaac Hayes and Delaney & Bonnie.
Nix wrote all the songs on I Don’t Want No Trouble!, his first studio release in 12 years. These 12 tunes concoct a low-to-the-ground tone. Nix augments a solid beat, bar-room piano, thick bass, gritty slide guitar and Memphis Horns into one strong brew. Nix wastes no notes on this collection.
Nix knows the face of decadence, but now he plays the role of the ornery storyteller. Most of these songs could pass for STAX b-sides, and shames most contemporary rock bands who pretend they’re authentic. Nix, like most great songwriters, operated as a student of American music; he learned all the styles before he began to play his own songs. On “Memphis Man” Nix sings: “Soaked in rock and roll/Dipped in country music/Divided by the blues” indicating he fishes where all the musical streams converge.
Nix’s mean slide guitar echoes through every song. “Subject To Change” sounds like some lost Allman Brothers song from 1971, while “Getting On Board” tells a tale of a wandering spirit whose ship finally came in. Solid albums like this by an old veteran should inspire music fans to go back and study the moves which got Nix to this point. You didn’t get to hang around STAX sessions unless you really had something to say, or play…and those musicians left Nix a key to the office.
I Don’t Want No Trouble! proves why Don Nix played with so many influential musicians. Read my story about Nix’s book Road Stories And Recipes in Insured Beyond The Grave Vol. 2.