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Dixie Dregs - Free Fall CD (album) cover

FREE FALL

Dixie Dregs

Jazz Rock/Fusion


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lucas
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars The first Dixie Dregs released record. The members of this band are all gifted artists that play an intricate music highly influenced by Mahavishnu Orchestra with a touch of Allman Brothers. Guitarist extraordinaire Steve Morse wrote every song. His guitar solos were not as bursting as on his further records within the Steve Morse Band, but with this album he demonstrated that he was a great composer. Steve conceived every Dixie Dregs album as a patchwork of very different kinds of music, ranging from classical to fusion, via country, rock and balad. However, he is not the only astonishing musician on this record, violinist Allen Sloan and drummer Rod Morgenstein are as much as him. Complex compositions and great melodies make for a fantastic debut album. If you like Mahavishnu Orchestra, with a bit more fun and the spirit of Bruford's solo work, check out this record.

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Send comments to lucas (BETA) | Report this review (#26537)
Posted Monday, February 16, 2004 | Review Permalink
frodok@lycos.
5 stars This record is the first burst of guitar wizard Steve Morse, after his 1975 demo "The Great Spectacular. Some crtics call it ecclectic but for me is their best work, as the compositions are intrincate and brilliant, and what´s most important and difficult, without any loss of that groovy & funky feeling that Morse inject to his music. His work at Miami University, alongside Jaco Pastorius, could be an explanation to this, with Morse´s cascading notes over groovy & weird rhythms and the spectacular violin solos by Dr. Allen Sloan, undoubtedly the best violin in any album of the band (the players in other albums were Jerry Goodman & Mark O´Connor, no comment!). This amazing album is a step further in the fusion style á la Mahavishnu, introducing folky, country & medieval lines, with a jazzier style than in subsequent albums. Try also the next one, "What if", which is a bit rockier, but also a good example of the height of the music these guys can reach.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#26538)
Posted Sunday, February 29, 2004 | Review Permalink
Gatot
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Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Steve Morse was the main factor why I purchased this CD some years ago during my business trip to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I purchased it because I was frustrated with the fact that there was no good record shop in KL which sold good CDs (of course good CD meaning "prog" CD). So finally I purchased "Free Fall" and another live CD by metal group Gamma Ray. Listening to the music of Dixie Dregs is actually quite a challenge for me personally. As the band name implies, the style of music they are playing is somewhat close to Dixie or country type of music with typical straight forward structure and most of them are upbeat tempo. But that's okay for a break, sometimes.

That does not necessarily mean that I do not enjoy it. Remembering Steve Morse with his good solo albums and his involvement with later Deep Purple has made me curious enough to explore other Dregs albums from my previous collection. The good thing about Dixie Dregs is the inclusion of violin in its music. For some reason, I like violin being played in prog rock music. It's a personal taste. The opening track "Free Fall" (4:41) represents the whole music of this album. I can hear and enjoy excellent collaboration of work between Morse guitar work and Sloan's violin. It continues to the next "Holiday" (4:26) where Sloan gives more violin solo than the opening track.

The music moves faster during the intro of "Hand Jig" (3:18) which again features good duet between Morse and Sloan. Track with different style appears on track no. 7 "Cruise Control" (6:15) especially on the rhythm section which comprises bass (Andy West) and drums (Rod Morgenstein). Keyboard solo resembles Hammond-like sound augmented with fast guitar solo. The song has different styles as it changes in the middle of the track.

Overall, it's a good album that features excellent combination of guitar, violin and synthesizers in jazz-fusion style. My favorite track is "Wages Of Weirdness" (3:46) which contains excellent collaborative work of piano, guitar and violin. It's really enjoyable. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#120956)
Posted Monday, May 07, 2007 | Review Permalink
b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars The second album of Dixie Dregs, not as good as What if (the best DD), more like Dregs of the earth, with similar violin sound, country feeling and some jazz elements but different than other jazz bands from that era, more funky and groovy, a tipical american sound. This is a good instrumental album but somthing is missing here, to many the same rhythm section. Not a bad album but not his best, i prefer What if. The opening track "Free Fall" is an excellent collaboration of work between Morse guitar work and Sloan's violin, and with Cruise Control the best track from here, the rest are good but not among the best of Dixie Dregs from the '70. 3 stars, and if you want some groovy country/jazz muzic this is the answer.

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Send comments to b_olariu (BETA) | Report this review (#126527)
Posted Friday, June 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Neo Prog Team
3 stars This one is considerd as the first disc of DIXIE DREGS...Who are DIXIE DREGS?...Well,imagine MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA-that means a jazz rock band that is fond of drums/violin/keyboards/giutar acrobatics- with a happier and more pleasant mood that flirts even with country music!...I was very impressed by the way Allan Sloan plays the violin,the guy is a virtuoso of his instrument!Of course myhths of rock like Steve Morse (giutar) and Rod Morgenstein (drums) are not unnoticed but I was more impressed by Sloan...Jazz rock lovers,this album was created for you!!Grab it!

/

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Send comments to apps79 (BETA) | Report this review (#168677)
Posted Friday, April 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
Garion81
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is a great album no doubt about it., My favorite Dregs album and Steve Morse at his best. The songs are really just frame works for the band to capably improv in and they do it so well. Light songs not dark and heavy like some of the british bands or even Kansas these guys just love to play and it comes across as this music will leave a smile on your face. More in the vin of Return to Forever than Mahvishnu these guys blend great fusion, traditional jazz, blues, country and funk into the rock framework for a fun and yet still challenging CD. Favorite tracks here are the title track, Moe Down, Cruise Control, Dig the Ditch and the best ever Wages of Weirdness. 4 stars.

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Send comments to Garion81 (BETA) | Report this review (#170390)
Posted Friday, May 09, 2008 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars "Free Fall" was the official debut release by Dixie Dregs, the item that allowed them to expand the focus of attention by the public after the non-official effort "The Great Spectacular". It was a pity that Parrish had left the band by the time this album was being recorded and produced (he returned shortly afterwards), but Davidowski indeed filled his shoes with total efficiency. All in all, the band's style was already robustly forged, with the dynamics of the West-Morgenstein rhythmic foundation perfectly oiled, as well as the effective duels between Morse and Sloan in order to enhance the main nuances of the melodic ideas. Influences from Mahavishnu Orchestra and Return to Forever are patent, but that's not the whole story: the heavy use of recurrent country airs, bluegrass moods and hard rock twists makes the DD material fit well in the kind of jazz-prog that they create on their own terms. The album kicks off with the catchy namesake track, agile and slightly augmented with funky cadences, the main motifs are well defined and not too complex. 'Hand Jig' bears a family resemblance in mood with the opener, featuring an Amazing bass solo. In between, 'Holiday', a very country-friendly track, offers a bit less of punch and a lot more of complexity, with a thematic development that is both impressive and intense. 'Moe Down' is a true celebration of the spirit of country music, provided with a richly stylish variation. 'Refried Funky Chicken' prolong this kind of momentum, albeit reconstructed through a catchy funky-based pace. 'Sleep' is a gentle interlude that finds the band deep in the realms of symphonic rock that at times reminds me of some ballet suite's softer passages. This makes it for a nice closure for the album's first half. And now it's time to start the second half, and what can go wrong with 'Cruise Control'? A definite DD classic, this electrifying display of exquisite dynamics is a perfect showcase for the typical Dregsian combination of good vibes and refined interactions. The progressively epic interlude brings a special flair to the track's development just before arriving at the hyper-climatic conclusion. 'Cosmopolitan Traveler' and 'Dig the Ditch' allow the band to focus on their jazz-rock interests without further ado, plain and simple (I mean the attitude, not the tracks, which are indeed quite demanding in the technical aspect). The band members' abilities to provide immaculate delivery and generate musical hooks are out of any question by now. Of course, it is in uplifting tracks such as these, together with complex tracks such as 'Cruise Control' and 'Holiday' that Morgenstein's technical proficiency becomes more straightforwardly noticeable. 'Wages of Weirdness' shows a further focalization on the jazz factor: the piano solo is leaned to old-fashioned Dixieland, while most violin phrases state some of the most lyrical moments in the album. 'Northern Lights' is the beautiful farewell track - a dreamy duet of acoustic guitar and violin initially set on soft jazzy flavors, eventually shifting to a pastoral timber. Morse's untouchably polished playing is perfectly complemented by Sloan's magical solemnity - what a lovely way to close down this essential example of jazz-prog from the USA!

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Send comments to Cesar Inca (BETA) | Report this review (#178377)
Posted Monday, July 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
4 stars This album provided a great spectacular introduction to the Dixie Dregs. It set the tone for the albums to come. The musicianship is amazing, as are the Steve Morse compositions. I've always heard comparisons to The Mahavishnu Orchestra, and I suppose there is a similarity, but nobody had done this type of country jazz rock fusion before.

The music on this album is as goos as any of the subsequent Dregs albums. And it's barely noticable that keyboardist T Lavitz is not yet in the band, as Steve Davidowski fills that position with more than enough virtuosity.

there are plenty of great songs here, but "Cruise Control" has always been my favorite, and has been a crowd pleaser at live shows since the beginning of the band.

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Send comments to Evolver (BETA) | Report this review (#229847)
Posted Monday, August 03, 2009 | Review Permalink
Flucktrot
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Unlike What If, which is a deliciously eclectic mix of different styles, Free Fall falls more into a straightforward hybrid of boogie and funk, with a nice dose of rock filtered through as well. It's probably quasi-progressive at best, but that's no reason to miss out on it!

I wanted to review this album mainly for my two favorite Dregs tracks: Refried Funky Chicken and Cruise Control. In Funky Chicken, the band has cranked the funkometer to max capacity and let it rip. Great slap bass, catchy herky-jerky drumming, and plenty of itchy picking from Morse on guitar, all set to infectiously catchy melody. There are days when I can't get it out of my head--which of course might deter some proggers. Cruise Control really kicks the tempo up with a great rock progression, and then slows down for prog time, with a crazy double-time solo on drums, some Brian May-style guitar harmonies, and then a spastic back-and-forth between the guitar, keys, bass and violin while Rod goes bonkers on the drums, before concluding with the familiar verse. If you can't tell, I like it a lot! It perhaps occupies a similar space to Hocus Pocus by Focus, to provide a very imperfect reference point.

So, some killer songs to keep for the ages, and plenty of other good music to go around (I also like the title track, with some funky electric violin thrown in there). There's only one Dixie Dregs, and it's always nice to have some of their stuff around for some good rock with little southern touch.

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Send comments to Flucktrot (BETA) | Report this review (#285515)
Posted Monday, June 07, 2010 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 3.5 stars.The DIXIE DREGS were from Georgia and these good old boys put their own Southern spin on Fusion back in the late seventies. Man these guys could play.The violin is too prominant for my tastes though, I wish Steve Morse (guitar) was more out front but so be it. I do like violin but here there is that Country flavour to it here just like with KANSAS which is a turn off to these ears.

"Free Fall" the title track is my favourite. How good does this sound ! Some nice bass before a minute then the violin takes over before the main melody returns. Piano comes in then synths after 2 1/2 minutes then back again to that great melody. "Holiday" has some excellent intricate guitar 2 1/2 minutes in then back to the violin.The drums and bass sound great as they come and go. "Hand Jig" opens with drums then it settles into a Fusiony vibe with drums, piano and violin standing out. "Moe Down" is a hoe down Country jig y'all. Violin leads all the way.

"Refried Funky Chicken" is surprisingly...ahem funky. Some good guitar before 2 1/2 minutes. "Sleep" features some intricate guitar and synths. "Cruise Control" is more powerful. Violin before 2 minutes with organ in tow.The drumming is relentless. A calm after 3 minutes. Great sound a minute later. The guys trade solos before 5 minutes. Nice. "Cosmopolitan Traveler" has some horn (I think) after a minute. Violin follows then guitar late. "Dig The Ditch" has more intricate sounds to start then the violin joins in. Keyboards before 2 1/2 minutes then guitar. "Wages Of Weirdness" starts out with violin, drums and keys. It settles as piano, drums and bass standout.Violin plays over top before 3 minutes. "Northern Lights" features classical guitar and violin.

A very good album but the next one "What If" is the one you should invest in first.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#358783)
Posted Monday, December 20, 2010 | Review Permalink
Slartibartfast
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I used to have a copy their actual first album, The Great Spectacular, on tape. Recorded off the radio. A fairly rare vinyl even when they first started releasing albums through a regular label: Capricorn Records. Lots of good stuff came out under that label.

If you're a stickler for "consistency" in an album, this will probably not be for you. It's a bit of musical variety show. The Freefall title really fit's the music. It's one of those albums where there is probably at least one song that is for someone but if you are someone who can appreciate diversity and doesn't have to have vocals, this is worth checking out, it's a treasure trove kinda like a box of chocolates.

There are all kinds of musical influences here, bluegrass, Mahavishnu Orchestra, southern rock, classical, psychedelic. (Yeah I know one of those things is not like the other.)

I think the mellowest tracks, Sleep and Northern Lights may be my favorites. I've heard more versions of Cruise Control than I can count. This was pretty much their signature piece and at concerts they would set off a flash bomb at the peak of the crescendo.

An excellent debut, but I think What If blew the socks off of it.

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Send comments to Slartibartfast (BETA) | Report this review (#409943)
Posted Tuesday, March 01, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars The Dixie Dregs are truly a quirky band. The number of styles and sounds they concentrate into this album is truly remarkable. They flawlessly mix jazz, rock, and bluegrass, and classical all in a progressive context. The music is complex, and usually up-tempo, but always engaging.

They show off their technical prowess in the more rock oriented songs such as 'Free Fall,' and the brutally fast 'Cruise Control.' The more funky and jazzy numbers include 'Hand Jig' and 'Refried Funky Chicken,' while we see them delving into a slightly bluegrass/country sound with 'Moe Down.'

Despite their overwhelming speed they can still take it down a notch in the gentle closing 'Northern Lights' and the short interlude 'Sleep.'

Overall, this is a very fun album with a ton of eclecticism. The musicianship is superb, and the music is even better.

8/10

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Send comments to Mr. Mustard (BETA) | Report this review (#771388)
Posted Friday, June 15, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars My introduction to Steve Morse came secretly via his appearance on Triumph's final studio effort "Surveillance". I didn't pay much attention to the name of the guest player and it wasn't until almost 20 years later that I found out it was Morse. Now I am familiar with his work on the last four Deep Purple albums and I decided to check out his roots, going back to 1977 with this album. I had no idea what to expect. Rock/jazz fusion guitar and fiddling were on this album. What was I in for?

Musically, the album is really good. These guys know how to play what they play and they do it well. Every member contributes his skill right from jazzy drum rhythms, wicked bass grooves, searing fiddle playing, groovy keys, and of course, Morse's flying fingers on the fret board. There are no vocals. Every track is purely instrumental.

But what kind of music is this? It sounds to me as though the jazz band at my old college donated the tablatures for the music they played to various artists from the Windham Hill New Age/Folk collection (later Windham Hill was Morse's label!), the Rankin Family, the Alan Parsons Project, and some very talented young guitarist. Fortunately for me, I have albums by everyone mentioned above except the jazz band of my old college. Taking a moment to adjust, I was able to appreciate the music on this album. Particular favourites are "Refried Funky Chicken" and "Holiday", but other tracks are good too. There is this wonderful quirky sense of humour in the music when it gets a little wild, but it keeps its shirt tucked in for the more beautiful and sentimental pieces.

As great an album as I think it is, this is not my usual taste and so I really don't listen to it much. There's a bit too much jazz and down home fiddlin' here for me. But as I said, Dixie Dregs do a remarkable job of playing everything they write. Maybe not quite essential, but better than "good".

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Send comments to FragileKings (BETA) | Report this review (#839114)
Posted Tuesday, October 16, 2012 | Review Permalink

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