Dirk Hamilton

Band members                             Related acts

- Dirk Hamilton -- vocals, guitar 


  supporting musicians (1975)

- Larry Carlton -- lead guitar 
- Victor Feldman -- percussion 
- Venetta Field -- backing vocals 
- Ron Fransen - accordion, keyboards 
- Jim Gilstrap -- backing vocals 
- Chris Hillman: -- backing vocals

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

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


  supporting musicians (1976)

- Ron Aston -- percussion

-  Charles Black -- woodwinds 

- Oscar Brashear -- brass 

- George Bohanon -- brass 

- Chuck Domanico -- bass 

- Don Evans --  lead guitar 

- Venetta Fields -- backing vocals

- Ron Fransen -- keyboards 

- Bob Glaub -- bass

- John Guerin -- drums 

- Jim Horn -- woodwinds 

- Venetta Fields vocals

- Jimi Jamson -- backing vocals

- David Paich -- keyboards

- Stephen Paietta -- accordion 

- Bill Perkins -- woodwinds 

- Jeff Porcaro -- drums

- James Rolleston -- bass, backing vocals 

- Kenny Shroyer -- brass

- Phyllis St. James -- backing vocals

- Chino Valdes -- percussion



- 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: 4 stars ****

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

Company: ABC

Catalog: ABCD-920

Year: 1976

Country/State: Hobart, Indiana

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve; cut lower right corner

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5072

Price: $15.00


While in high school 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 40 years they remain part of my core collection and I would never dream of selling them, unless I had duplicate copies.  Interesting to remember having time to read Rolling Stone, but not read homework assignments ...


Born in Hobart, 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.  



At 15 Hamilton made his recording debut  with a one-shot single on the small Sacramento IKON label:


-  1965's 'Time' b/w 'Happiness' (IKON catalog number IER 173 and IER 174)


By the mid-1970s Hamilton was attending San Jose State University, earning spending money playing the local club and restaurant circuit.  




Living in Los Angeles, Hamilton's 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 (trying to figure out what he was singing about was part of the charm), 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 LA 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 prime Mellencamp, or early Steely Dan, 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 - check out '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.


For anyone interested Hamilton has an interesting website at: http://www.dirkhamilton.com/


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

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

The first time I heard 'The Sweet Forever' I remember wondering if I'd mistakenly slapped a John Mellencamp album on by mistake.  Well, it sounded like Mellencamp suffering from a bad head cold.  Musically the track started out with a laidback Dylan-esque vibe; sh*tloads of spur-of-the-moment lyrics, but as it progressed the tune took on more of a rollicking rock vibe with some tasty lead guitar.

2.) Waterfall   (Dirk Hamilton) - 3:18  rating: **** stars

The opening chords saw me flashback to one of those Peanuts television soundtrack ...  But Hamilton's ragged voice and the bleating female back vocalists quickly yanked me back to reality.  'Waterfall' then surprised me with a modest jazz vibe which sounded quite a bit like an early Steely Dan performance (remember produced Katz produced all of the early Dan albums).

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

The spare, acoustic ballad (Hamilton accompanied by strumming acoustic guitar and piano), was very Dylan-esque.  Personally I found this one bland and forgettable.

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

Back to a full band ensemble, 'She Don't Squash Bugs' had a great title, and a Southern California country-rock vibe that sounded a bit like The Eagles having swallowed a thesaurus.  

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

Another acoustic ballad, 'I Got To Feelin'' sounded like Hamilton had just rinsed his throat with gravel.

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

Perhaps the album's most overtly commercial track, the bouncy Americana 'Sweet and Cold' would not have sounded out of place on a Mellencamp album.

2.) Wasn't That One Night Good   (Dirk Hamilton) - 3:41   rating: *** stars
Geez, where did the John Prine song come from?   LOL  Hamilton sounded like he had a sore throat on this folky one.  

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

Fun isn't an adjective that readily comes to mind when describing Hamilton's catalog, but 'Grow a Rose' is one of those exceptions.  Hamilton gets funky ...  

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

Well, the title was a mouthful, but it made for a pretty, soul-tinged ballad and another performance that had commercial potential - had anyone at ABC been paying attention..  

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

A bouncy country-tinged tune, 'Ridin' On a Whale' sounded like something that had been written for an ABC television comedy.  A miss for me.






Genre: rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Alias i

Company: ABC

Catalog: AB 976

Year: 1976

Country/State: Hobart, Indiana

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: --

Price: $15.00


Released in 1976, Dirk Hamilton's sophomore album "Alias i" was again produced by Gary Katz.  Hamilton co-produced this time out.  With backing from an impressive list of LA sessions players, like the debut the collection offered up a series of Hamilton's intensely person vignettes peopled by a broad cast of life's outcasts and also-rans.  Exemplified by songs like 'In the Eyes of the Night', 'The Ballad of Dick Pferd' and the title track these weren't moon-is-blue tales of true love, or dreams and aspirations of an upper class, white-bread suburban demographic.  Admittedly, 'The Classic Sweet Poze' seemed to be a wish for rock stardom.  Regardless, Dylan, John Mellencamp, and Tom Waits all came to mind in terms of comparison, though Hamilton had a far more commercial voice than any of the competition.  And like a good Dylan, or Steely Dan song, trying to figure out what some of these tunes were about was a fascinating challenge.  I'm still clueless some forty plus years after I first heard them. My pick for standout performances were the dark opener 'In the Eyes of the Night' and, even though it was a little different from the rest of the collection, the slinky Steely Dan-esque 'The Classic Sweet Poze.'


ABC basically walked away from the album ensuring instant obscurity.  A good indication of how overlooked the album is, none of the songs on YouTube have more that 300, or 400 views.


"Alias i" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) In the Eyes of the Night   (Dirk Hamilton) - 5:47   rating: *** stars

'In the Eyes of the Night' opened up sounded like early John Mellencamp trotting out his best Bob Dylan impersonation with Gram Parker decided to hang out with him.  That's not meant to be snide, or snarky since I'm a fan of all three artists.  Built on a funky melody and some nice Stax-styled horns, the tune served as a nice introduction to Hamilton's hyper-lyrical narratives - the vision of a dog chewing on a cat still makes me shudder.   Recorded at a July, 2002 Italian performance, YouTube has a nice extended performance of the song at:  Dirk Hamilton Band -'In The Eyes Of The Night' - Alive In Italy - 2002 - YouTube

2.) The Ballad of Dicky Pferd   (Dirk Hamilton) - 5:57   rating: **** stars

Another pretty, lyrically dense ballad 'The Ballad of Dicky Pferd' displayed Hamilton's surprisingly light and tuneful voice.  With Hamilton's cast of downtrodden urban characters, this one added a touch of Tom Waits to the mix.  The refrain was very catchy.

3.) For Diana   (Dirk Hamilton) - 4:40    rating: *** stars

With a sweet sing-song vocal, 'For Diana' offered up another acoustic ballad sporting one of the album's most straightforward and commercial melodies. Imagine Waits singing a love song.  LOL

4.) Alias I   (Dirk Hamilton) - 4:30   rating: **** stars

The bluesy, country-tinged title track showcased another pretty melody and some of Hamilton's homespun advice.  Like a Steely Dan tune, this one's an intriguing challenge in terms of trying to figure out the plot line.  I'm still trying to figure it out.

(side 2)
1.) Los Gatos
   (Dirk Hamilton) - 3:01    rating: *** stars

With a glistening Latin favor, I bet Mellencamp would have traded his touring bass player for something as bouncy as 'Los Gatos.'   The tune was actually commercial enough to have stood as a single, though ABC did little or nothing to promote the album.

2.) Joanna Ree   (Dirk Hamilton) - 5:56   rating: ** stars

Hum, the bluesy 'Joanna Ree' sounded like Hamilton had been listening to a little too much "Exile On Main Street."  Admittedly, with a pleasant chorus the song got better as it went along.  The female backing singers were simply irritating.

3.) The Classic Sweet Poze   (Dirk Hamilton) - 4:20   rating: **** stars

Perhaps not a big surprise given Gary Katz's longstanding relationship with Steely Dan, but 'The Classic Sweet Poze' sounded very much like an early Becker and Fagen  tune.  The mixture of commercial melody, Stax-horns, slurred vocals, eclectic lyrics and Don Evans' slinky lead guitar was very Dan-esque.  My choice for the album's standout performance.   "I'm going to fill my swimming pool with KY jelly ..."  Seriously that's a mental imagine I didn't need.

4.) The Light of Love   (Dirk Hamilton) - 3:37   rating: ** stars

'The Light of Love' was a spare ballad - Hamilton accompanied by acoustic guitar and Latin-flavored melody.  He even sang a couple of lines in Spanish.



Genre: rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Thug of Love

Company: Elektra

Catalog: 6E-249

Year: 1980

Country/State: Hobart, Indiana

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

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

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 17

Price: $15.00



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



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