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Dixie Dregs - California Screamin' CD (album) cover


Dixie Dregs

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Sean Trane
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;

Report this review (#26559)
Posted Thursday, April 15, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The Dixie Dregs are the ultimate Fusion between - well, Fusion and Country. Steve Morse and Rod Morgenstein are the constant elements in their lineup. Violins also play a major part in their music, keyboards are more supporting elements in the background. I'll just list the standaout tracks and tell you what I think about them:

As their regular studio albums are quite hard to find in record stores, I recommend this album as a perfect way of getting to know the world of the Dregs!

Peaches En Regalia: It's amazing to hear this track performed with that many guitars and the violins.

Aftershock: Great moving bass line and violin solo.

The Bash: Awesome guitar vs. violin duels in a weird Hillbilly setting.

Refied Funky Chicken: Great funky bass lines, and the typical staccato unisono guitar/violin lines and breaks.

What If: Beautiful slow track, it's wonderful how Morse manages to smooth out the guitar parts with his volume knob. He also plays a very laid back jazzy solo.

Sleeveless in Seattle: Maybe the best track on the album, if not the best Dregs song of all times. Stunning chord progressions and beautiful solos by guitar and violin - first alternating, then together.

Report this review (#37838)
Posted Monday, June 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars I enjoy this album much more than the previous live Dixie Dregs album, "Bring 'Em Back Alive", despite the fact that the other has my two favorite Dregs songs on it. One reason, this one has Andy West. Anyone who saw the Dregs in thier heyday (I saw them many times) could see that West was the heart of the band. Dave LaRue, as good as he is, just doesn't add the same punch on bass. And on this one, the recoring quality is much better.

The selections highlight all of the different facets of the Dregs music, the majestic ballads, the fast fusion, and the insanely fast country breakdowns. And as usual, the band just cooks on every song. The covers are surprising, and extremely well done. Dweezil Zappa gets on stage to help out on his dad's "Peaches En Regalia", and the Allman Brothers' "Jessica" is just beautiful.

I wish this big band version of the Dregs had toured in my area.

Report this review (#229277)
Posted Friday, July 31, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars What is there to say to the uniformed? Never heard of Steve Morse, Dixie Dregs or The Dregs? If you haven't -- you just don't know your fusion nor your award-winning guitarists. Not too long after The Mahavishnu Orchestra exploded onto the electrified jazz rock fusion scene, a young Southerner, (U.S., that is), was inspired enough to start crankin' out his own brand of fusion with a southern-fried, dust-kickin', funkified, and hard-rockin' flavor. Steve Morse was the envy of guitarists the world over. His riffs are strong, fluid, mean, speed-racer cool, and he knows how to rock. Plenty of space was left for all the Dregs to jam out and conversational soloing was like a good olde "hollerin contest". The Dixie Dregs became The Dregs, then folded, then became the Steve Morse Band, then solo Steve Morse, then Deep Purple with Steve Morse, then the reformed Dixie Dregs, etc., etc. and now, (drum roll please), EVERYBODY IS BACK TOGETHER again. Yee-haw! Oh man, this reunion thing is catching like wildfire.

Anyway, the whole gang is back together on this culling of a three-nite-live-reunion jam-fest. Morse, Lavitz, Morgenstein, Sloan, and West -- are joined by LaRue, Goodman, and Dweezil Zappa. Everybody throws down, doing all the golden fusion/rock/country oldies. Even Zappa and the Allman Brothers tunes are covered. The riffs are flyin' like gravel slingin' from under a souped-up stock car runnin' down that there country road up yonder. Fun is the word here. Musicianship is stunning and the crowd loves it. My fav cuts were the dream-ridden, Mahavishnu-meets-Morse, soul-travel cuts; "Night Meets Light" and "What If" both from my fav Dregs release, What If.

This is a great "meet-the-Dregs" CD for newbies or a decent live "best-of" but if you already own many other Dregs releases or Morse-related CDs, this CD will be merely an altered echo versus a disc of new revelations. For a great new taste of Morse, I highly recommend his 2000 release, Major Impacts. All-in-all, a superb release by matchless musicians.

Report this review (#2582075)
Posted Thursday, July 29, 2021 | Review Permalink

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