BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
Although given short thrift and frequently relegated to the role of a peripheral player, Don Nix gained fame as musical director for various communal ensembles involving Leon Russell, Delaney and Bonnie and the musicians that populated Muscle Shoals Studios. He boasted impressive credits – sax on the Mar-Keys’ hit “Last Night,” back-up vocals for George Harrison’s Concert for Bangla-Desh and the penning of at least one indelible standard in “Goin’ Down,” a song that became a staple for Jeff Beck, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Freddy King, Albert King and a host of others with a similar blues bent.
Yet, for those who do recall his aforementioned activities in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, he’s likely just as well remembered for the iconic Civil War garb he wore on the cover of Living By The Days –his second album for Elektra Records, now offered for the first time on CD by collectors label Real Gone Music — as he is for his resume. So while the lack of bonus material may impede interest, this belated reissue makes for a worthy acquisition regardless. Backed mainly by the Muscle Shoals session crew, the music manages to hold up well 40 years on, and whether it’s the rowdy barroom romp “Olena,” the rugged Southern balladry of “She Don’t Want a Lover (She Just Needs a Friend)” and the title track or the celebratory sound of the Hank Williams gospel hymn “I Saw the Light,” Nix clearly takes his cues from heartland homilies and infuses them with knowing authenticity. It’s a powerful southern spirit that makes … Days worth revisiting.
DOWNLOAD: “Olena,” “I Saw the Light,” ““She Don’t Want a Lover (She Just Needs a Friend)”