Hamilton, Dirk

Band members               Related acts

- Larry Carlton -- lead guitar (1976)

- Chico Cummings -- percussion (1980)

- Don Evans -- lead guitar (1980)
- Victor Feldman -- percussion (1976)
- Venetta Field -- backing vocals (1976)
- Ron Fransen - accordion, keyboards (1976, 80)
- Jim Gilstrap -- backing vocals (1976)
- Dirk Hamilton -- vocals, guitar 
- Chris Hillman: -- backing vocals (1976)

- Milt Holland -- percussion (1976)
- David Hungate -- bass (1976)
- Tom Kelly -- backing vocals (1976)
- Shirley Matthews -- backing vocals (1976)
- David Paich -- keyboards (1976)
- Dean Parks -- guitar (1976)

- Jeff Porcaro -- drums (1976)
- Chuck Rainey -- bass (1976)
- Elliott Randall -- guitar (1976)
- Louie Shelton -- guitar (1976)

- Wayne Smith -- bass (1980)

- Darrell Verdusco -- drums (1980)



- none known





Genre: rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  You Can Sing On the Left or Bark On the Right

Company: ABC

Catalog: ABCD-920

Year: 1976

Country/State: Indiana

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG

Comments: gatefold sleeve; cut lower right corner

Available: 2

GEMM catalog ID: 5072

Price: $10.00


I remember reading a Rolling Stone review for one of Dirk Hamilton's LPs and being intrigued enough to scoop up a couple of his album at my local record store (yes record store - anyone remember Penguin Feather) for 99 cents a pop.  While I don't listen to these albums all the time, after some 30 years they remain part of my core collection and I would never dream of selling them, unless I had duplicate copies.


Born in Indiana, but raised in Stockton, California, Hamilton started his musical career while still a teenager.  Handling vocals and rhythm guitar he played in a string of local garage outfits including The Bobbies, The Pierson Pier People, The Regents, and The Templers.  By the mid-1970s Hamilton was attending San Jose State University, earning spending money playing the local club and restaurant circuit.  


His big break came in 1975 when he caught the attention of producer Gary Katz (then hot from his work with Steely Dan).  Katz signed Hamilton to ABC Records, producing his 1976 debut "You Can Sing On the Left or Bark On the Right".  Propelled by Hamilton's gruff Dylan-esque voice and penchant for unique narratives outlining society's outer fringe musically the album was hard to accurate describe.  Imagine John Cougar Mellencamp if he had a major Steely Dan fix, or perhaps a less commercial Van Morrison and you'd be in the right aural neighborhood.  Backed by an all star cast of sessions players (many having supported Steely Dan), material like 'The Sweet Forever', 'I Got To Feelin'' and 'Sweet and Cold' wasn't exactly top-40 pop, but like much of Steely Dan's catalog, displayed a sneaky commercial sheen that kind of snuck up on you.  Oh, don't let me forget to add in a healthy dose of Dylan to the mix - 'Wasn't That One Night Good'.  As a lyricist Hamilton was also pretty interesting.  Exemplified by songs like 'Little Big-Time Man' and 'She Don't Squash Bugs' he was one of those guys who would rather use a paragraph where Springsteen or others would use a sentence fragment to convey the same feeling.  Certainly not an album for everyone and even fans may have to spin it a couple times, but well worth the time and effort.  Unfortunately while the album generated favorable critical reviews, it did little commercially.


"You Can Sing On the Left or Bark On the Right" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) The Sweet Forever   (Dirk Hamilton) - 5:34

2.) Waterfall   (Dirk Hamilton) - 3:18

3.) Little Big-Time Man   (Dirk Hamilton) - 2:33

4.) She Don't Squash Bugs   (Dirk Hamilton) - 3:15

5.) I Got To Feelin'   (Dirk Hamilton) - 4:42

(side 2)
1.) Sweet and Cold   (Dirk Hamilton) - 4:30

2.) Wasn't That One Night Good   (Dirk Hamilton) - 3:41

3.) Grow a Rose   (Dirk Hamilton) - 3:28

4.) When She Kiss Ya' Like She Love (Ya Know She Do)   (Dirk Hamilton) - 4:45

5.) Ridin' On a Whale   (Dirk Hamilton) - 2:35


For anyone interested Hamilton has an interesting website at:






Genre: rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Thug of Love

Company: Elektra

Catalog: 6E-249

Year: 1980

Country/State: Indiana

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG

Comments: promo sticker on cover; white label; original lyric inner sleeve

Available: 2

GEMM catalog ID: 17

Price: $10.00



Co-produced by Dirk Hamilton and Don Evans, 1980's "Thug of Love" was Hamilton's second and final release for Elektra.  Backed by a first rate band (including Evans on lead guitar), musically the album wasn't a major change from Hamilton's earlier releases.  Material like the opener 'Out To Unroll the Wheel World' and the should've-been-a-hit 'Need Some Body' offered up a nice mix of blue collar rockers and slower, reflective numbers like 'Turn Off the T.V.' and 'Change In a Child's Hand'.  It all underscored Hamilton's penchant for dense though interesting lyrics - imagine early Springsteen ('Moses & Me'), or perhaps Graham Parker and the Rumour had the moved to New Jersey. Personal favorites included the Latin flavored 'Colder Than Mexican Snow', the tuneful rocker 'I Will Acquiesce' and the highly commercial closer 'In a Miracle'.  Elsewhere Elektra tapped the album for an instantly obscure  single: 'The Main Attraction' b/w '???' (Elektra catalog number E-46606).  In spite of strong reviews (many including the cursed 'next-Dylan' label), neither the 45 nor the parent album did anything commercially.  Things turned even uglier when Hamilton was kicked off of an American tour opening for Warren Zevon.  (Zevon apparently didn't take kindly to members of Hamilton's manager and a couple of his band members criticized Zevon's performances. Dropped by Elektra and left without a recording contract Hamilton subsequently dropped out of music turning his attention to counseling troubled youth for the next five years.

"Thug of Love" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Out To Unroll the Wheel World   (Dirk Hamilton) - 2:52

2.) Turn Off the T.V.   (Dirk Hamilton) - 4:09

3.) Colder Than Mexican Snow   (Dirk Hamilton) - 3:40

4.) Moses & Me   (Dirk Hamilton) - 5:03

5.) I Will Acquiesce   (Dirk Hamilton) - 4:41

(side 2)
1.) The Main Attraction   (Dirk Hamilton) - 3:06

2.) Need Some Body   (Dirk Hamilton - Don Evans) - 3:52

3.) Wholly Bowled Over   (Dirk Hamilton) - 4:22

4.) Change In a Child's Hand   (Dirk Hamilton) - 3:19

5.) In a Miracle   (Dirk Hamilton) - 4:02



Back to Bad Cat homepage/search