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Dixie Dregs - Live At The Montreux Jazz Festival 1978 CD (album) cover


Dixie Dregs


Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.36 | 9 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars Live video footage of the Dregs does not abound, at least here in Europe, so the release in 2006 of this performance at the 1978 Montreux Jazz Festival is to be celebrated. Just after having released their best record What If, one may well argue that this was the Dixie Dregs peak period.

The Dixie Dregs were rather unknown at that time in Europe and I guess that they must have been a bit of a shock for the jazz-oriented audience at Montreux, but they manage to captivate the public who for a big part give them a standing ovation. We have the lineup with Mark Parrish on keyboards and Allen Sloan on violin, plus the usuals Andy West, Rod Morgenstein and Steve Morse on bass, drums and guitar respectively. The band sounds very cohesive and seems to have genuine fun on stage.

Steve Morse looks maybe a bit shy, his playing is much less hard than it would eventually become, with very little distortion, but he already shows what a hell of a guitarist he is. 4 tracks from this concert recording would be included in the half-studio / half-live album Night Of The Living Dregs, the track with this name, Patchwork, Leprechaun Promenade and The Bash, their version of the traditional bluegrass tune Wabash Cannonball.

The performance is absolutely wonderful and I have only 2 negative comments: the first is the sound mix where Allen Sloan's violin is too prominent and Steve Morse's guitar too low, it gets better after a while but it's weird that this has happened in a 2006 release. The second is not really a fault but a personal taste matter, given my mostly classic prog orientation the tracklist could have been better, it features many great Dixie Dregs classics but also a bit too much of their country / bluegrass material, but I feel that this was somehow intentional in order to show something different and unexpected to the Montreux audience. I miss tracks such as Odyssey, Cruise Control, Night Meets Light or Northern Lights, but ok, this is what the Dregs did, so let it be.

The concert starts with 3 great classic tracks, Freefall, Leprechaun Promenade and Country House Shuffle, which regrettably suffer from the afformentioned low volume of Steve Morse's guitar. Then comes Patchwork which Andy West introduces as "avant-garde country".

Atila The Hunt is a track that would later appear in the '81 album Unsung Heroes, and features very nice tempo transitions from very fast to slow or medium, always seamless. The Bash is 100% country/bluegrass and while not my personal taste it's an impressive display of playing speed.

We then get another round of classic tracks with Night Of The Living Dregs, Wages Of Weirdness and Take It Off The Top, where we get to see great interplays between West, Morse, Sloan and Parrish, great stuff. The concert ends in 100% bluegrass style with Kathreen which appeared in their obscure demo debut The Great Spectacular joined to a very short Dixie.

The camera takes are good enough for a 1978 recording even if Allen Sloan gets a bit too much of the attention. Another curiosity for fans is seeing Steve Morse still playing his "Frankenstein" guitar with Telecaster body, Stratocaster mast, Gibson bridge and a peculiar arrangement of pickups and switches.

We have also 2 bonus segments, the first is a 1982 recording on american tv supporting the release of the Industry Standard album, with T. Lavitz on keyboards. On the first track "Crank It Up" we see Mark O'Connor on violin and Alex Ligertwood on vocals, sounding quite AOR, a bit like Journey. Then they play the instrumental Bloodsucking Leeches where Mark O'Connor plays 2nd guitar making things much better. A curious fact is seeing Rod Morgenstein playing with a minimalistic drumkit..

The 2nd bonus is a 1979 recording of Punk Sandwitch at the Don Kirschner program, the song and the performance are great but their looks show how they were looking for mainstream recognition, all of them with sunglasses, Steve Morse with a bow-tie, Rod with a bonnet....

In any case a great DVD very much worth watching.

Gerinski | 5/5 |


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