This is the third album by Steve Morse's legendary instrumental Georgia 5 piece, and maintains the great standard set by their previous offerings. The Dixie Dregs defied easy pigeon-holing, often being considered too mellow for all out rock and too muscular for jazz, Morse himself prefering to call their unique blend of influences 'electric chamber music', and this album, part studio recording and part live performance, amply demonstrates just why they were so resistant to simple categorising, and just how damn good they were!.
The music is obviously built around Morse's formidable guitar playing and writing skills, but whether rocking along to the opener, Punk Sandwich, flexing their syncopated muscles on Country House Shuffle, or blissing out to the mellow, jazz tinged Long Slow Distance, the rest of the guys are clearly having a wonderful time too! The deft interplay within the band, the evident pleasure in their playing, along with the touches of humour and playfulness, exemplified on the 4 live tracks (especially The Bash) were vital components of the Dregs' magic.
Rock'n'roll, bluegrass/country, jazz and classical elements all contributed the the musical whole that was The Dixie Dregs. So ignore the old muso tag so often pinned on these fellas, anyone who has an appreciation of great tunes that strike above and below the waist should give this album a try. Go on, take a chance, you don't know what you're missing!
This is by the way of a preliminary review as I have yet to concentrate on all the tracks.And some tracks do require it - as can be said of many albums of this era, they repay attentive listening and do not always have an easy initial appeal.
Firstly, the name of the band would lead you to expect a punk-country hybrid. This couldnt be further away from that. This is sophisticated stuff. To say it is progressive rock is to not accurately convey trhe breadth of their styles. And dont let that prog-rock term put you off - I am not using it in its usual derogatory sense and neither am I a huge prog-rock fan (Curved Airs first album is one of the few of that genre that I possess) Each track is different. The unifying characteristics are the technical abilities of the band, their sheer competence and, on the downside, perhaps a little coldness, a hauteur, in the delivery. By that I mean that the playing at times feels detached - now we play an archetypal generic rock song, now we do the jazz-rock fusion, now the country-rock , , ,
To my mind there jazzier numbers echo the early 70s UK band East of Eden. But there are so many different influences here they do defy easy categorisation.