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Dixie Dregs - California Screamin' CD (album) cover

CALIFORNIA SCREAMIN'

Dixie Dregs

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.67 | 20 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars Live album recorded around the turn of millennium, Cal Screaming features an all-star line-up, headed by the returning Steve Morse, but featuring historic members Morgenstein, LaRue, but also Jerry Goodman and most of the historic members. The seven-man line-up recorded this over a three-nights stint at LA's Roxy Theatre late summer 99, but a quick ugly fluo wmv-type of artwork and released it a few months later.

I was never really a fan of DD, because they came a little too late, when almost everything was said in the JR/F, and in their classic days, they developed a strange sort of fusion between southern/country rock music (I loathe) and your habitual later-70's jazz rock. Past the obvious Mahavishnu Orchestra references, you can also hear some Charlie Daniels or Marshall Tucker Band influences, which never bodes well with me. And indeed there are a few awful country hick-type of jigs (such as the ridiculous Bash and haystack boogie of Dixie), the presence of two violins unfortunately encouraged such dubious choices. They even can't help themselves but covering the Allman Bros classic Jessica (I'd have preferred them doing Whipping Post), but if I can't say they honour it, neither do they diserve it, just nothing special, except extending the track needlessly for cheap over-appreciative fan applause.

Other tracks like Aftershock or Wages Of Weirdness are nothing beyond average with a Kansas flavour, with Refried Chicken offering a rare Kb solo over an 80's funk beat (never as good as the killer 70's funk), while Night Meets Lights is a completely uninspired (well a poor Maha Orch inspiration) slow ascending riff tune. While What If is also strongly MO-inspired, it also fails to impress (as if they were afraid to inspire themselves from faster Maha Orch tracks), but it's far from unpleasant. Among the best tracks around are the shortened Zappa classic Peaches In Regalia (with Dweezil making an appearance), Freefall (good Goodman violin work), and the Sleeveless In Seattle (I guess named after the movie), which easily their best of their selection, but Morgenstein's drumming is a bit pedestrian, IMHO.

While this Live reunion album is likely to please most of DD fans, let's face it, most of the historical members are present, so fans can only be overwhelmed, but I am not impressed by the selection of tracks on this disc. Cal Screaming would not a bad overview of the band, but there are better tracks on their glory-days albums, that are not present here, so if you could start with those elusive studio albums, which are not easily found in the old world, it might be a more suitable introduction;

Sean Trane | 3/5 |

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