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Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks were postmodern even before the term was coined. Drawing on a panoply of incongruous influencesamong them Bob Wills, Louis Jordan, Brazil ’66, and the Django Reinhardt-Stephane Grappelli Quintet du Hot Club de Franceand seemingly costumed by R. Crumb, Hicks’ band attracted a cult following during its five-year lifespan (1968-1973). An anomaly in the era of San Francisco psychedelic rock, the originally drumless Hot Licks combined close vocal harmonies with eclectic acoustic instrumentation: two violins, guitar, and bass. Return to Hicksville, compiled by Hicks and Todd Everett (who also provides detailed, insightful album notes), skims the strongest cuts from the group’s three Blue Thumb albums. The anthology opens with six carefree songs from Where’s the Money? (1971), a live set recorded at Hollywood’s Troubadour Club, notably “News From Up the Street,” the rhythmically tricky “Dig a Little Deeper,” and the title tune. Then come seven tracks from the Hot Licks’ 1972 studio masterpiece, Striking It Rich. (The LP’s die-cut pop-art cover mimicked a giant matchbook.) Hicks’ wry compositions “Canned Music” and “Walkin’ One and Only” are capped by the astounding “I Scare Myself,” a misterioso Middle Eastern vocal theme exploded by Sid Page’s incendiary extended violin improvisation. Three final, relatively uninspired items from Last Train to Hicksville (1973), the band’s valedictory effort, indicate that Hicks was wise to dissolve the band when he did, even though it was still gaining popularity. A quarter-century after calling it quits, the Hot Licks sound as zanily ingenious as ever. Delightful stuff.Joel E. Siegel