Have you ever heard an instrumental track and thought, “man, it would be cool if that had lyrics?” Deke Dickerson and Los Straitjackets set out to right this wrong. The resulting album, Deke Dickerson Sings the Great Instrumental Hits, is premiering on Billboard today. Dickerson calls it “the first album of its kind.”
Dickerson explains his musical connection with the Straitjackets in simple terms: “6 knuckleheads were better than one.” But that’s not the only thing holding these guys together — they also share an interest in prominent guitars and an assortment of classic sounds. Los Straitjackets, a Grammy-nominated group from Nashville famous for wearing Lucha Libre masks, have released more than 11 albums. Dickerson got his start in the surf-garage band Untamed Youth in the late ’80s.
Deke Dickerson Sings the Great Instrumental Hits covers a lot of ground over the course of its 14 songs. “A Summer Place” has the innocence and grace of an early Beach Boys hit, while the bouncy, brassy “Perfidia” recalls the sweet reggae of Phyllis Dillon, who recorded her own version of the track in the ’60s. Dickerson sings somewhere between a croak and a growl on the opener “Fury,” but he relaxes into an easy croon on “Honky Tonk.” “Wild Weekend” has the raucous appeal of mid ’60s garage rock, with everyone sounding gleefully destructive.
“If you’re a record collector and music geek who’s been around long enough,” says Dickerson, “you start to realize that most famous instrumental hits either started out as vocal songs, or — even better — were written as instrumentals.” Dickerson and the Straitjackets may be knuckleheads, but they’re smart enough to align themselves with a storied tradition.