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Dixie Dregs - Night Of The Living Dregs CD (album) cover


Dixie Dregs

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Chris S
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is a fine album, live too and it's magically creates all the atmospheres and ingredients required for a live gig to be a success both on the night and on medium. There is great energy throughout but the best highlights for me are Long Slow Distance, Patchwork and Night of the Living Dregs. It was this album that hooked me onto the Dregs so if you are looking at introductions to new sounds look no further than here.
Report this review (#26546)
Posted Wednesday, July 14, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is jazzy, swinging, rocking music. I would say that most of the time the rhythm is the major aspect but then in particular the violinist fills in the progressive elements. If you are looking for happy instrumental music you've found it. Right now I'm listening to The Bash which is a fast traditional folk dance from deep west and the next one is a intellectual modern electrojazz similiar to the Mahavishnu orchestra. The biggest difference is the element of humour that is present almost all the time. Probably One of the top jazz-rock fusion ensembles ever. Great listening! If this was more progressive i'd give it all five stars but here this is an excellent addition and so: four stars.
Report this review (#75212)
Posted Monday, April 17, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This Dixie Dregs Night of the Living Dregs LP\CD is part Studio, part Live at the Montreaux Jazz Festival. It is without question one of the finest Jazz Rock Fusion albums ever made. It has great instrumental Jazz Rock studio efforts in Punk Sandwich and Country House Shuffle and the Live sets from The Montreaux Jazz Festival which features Leprechaun Promenade, Night of the Living Dregs, and the Jazz Bluegrass classic The Bash which is The Wabash Cannonball played at maximum speed. The classic staying power of this recording is that the Live cuts from this album have also now be re-released on a Dixie Dregs Live at Montreaux DVD Video, 25 years later. Steve Morse has it all on display here, the alternate picking method, chicken picking, phrasing, chromatic chord runs, and his unique chops and feel for the music that elevates Steve Morse's playing from great to legendary. This LP and CD is one of the very best Albums and CD's that I own, and I have hundreds of Albums and CDs from all genres of music. The Dixie Dregs Night of the Living Dregs is a Jazz Rock Fusion Classic in my opinion. And it is still in print on CD! If you enjoy Hard Rock, Jazz, and Bluegrass together check this one out. Stunning ensemble virtuoso musicianship! In my top 10 All-Time favorite Albums.
Report this review (#90075)
Posted Monday, September 18, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars The Dregs liked to open up their albums with straightforward rock tunes. The 3 minute "Punk Sandwich" is a decent tune with a groovy riff, but it's nothing compared to what follows. The band always masquaraded as a jazz/fusion band, but they they had a better sense of humor and more varied music than most fusion bands of the era. The real opener of the album is "Country House Shuffle" which starts with loads of percussion, and continues with a lydian melody played over a shuffle rhythm (duh!). It has to be known that Steve Morse was at this time the greatest rock guitarist, not to be dethroned until Steve Vai had really hit the scene. Morse was in top shape, I mean his subsequent were good, but sometimes I feel he didn't keep his chops as much as he should have. The third tune REALLY shows Morse's versatility as a composer and a player. It is a guitar/violin duo, written using what sounds like early 20th century compositional techniques (think Ravel). It is here where you can hear Steve's skill on the nylon string guitar. Man, this album just keeps getting better! The next tune starts with a piano intro and continues with nice guitar and violin melodies. It is quite obvious that this tune was inspired by the slower side of Mahavishnu Orchestra.

Here comes the live side of the album, and this is the side that really shines! "The Night of the Living Dregs" has a country groove. Boy Steve sure loved extended dominant sequences! The tune has a nice lighthearted feel. Now to the famous "The Bash". If you like fast bluegrass licks traded between twangy guitar and fiddle over a humppa rhythm then look here! This was a great showcase piece. Just listen to the audience going crazy! "The Leprechaun Promenade" was initially released on the Dregs' first album, I believe. And then it was remade on Steve Morse Band's album High Tension Wires, in fact this is where I got to know the tune from. It was years before I got to know this album, but when I first heard this version, the modern one soured up on me. This one has so much great interplay, there is even a whole freely improvised section in it! The closing track "Patchwork" is another twangy style tune after the relief that "Leprechaun Promenade" provided for us New Englanders. But damn is this a hot jam? If you want some light melodic yet sophisticated fusion, then look into this album. You won't be dissapointed!

Report this review (#126983)
Posted Thursday, June 28, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Here's an album that needs to be knocked down a few pegs. The musicianship is top notch, but it doesn't really say anything. The opening _Punk Sandwich_ is boring and uninspired, much like the Punk genre itself(yet it doesn't sound punk). _Country House Shuffle_ is ok with an mediocre drum opening from Rod Morgenstein. _The Riff Raff_ is a nice acoustic rock number better serviced on a Pat Metheny album. The only highlight here is the 6:40 _Long Slow Distance_ which can be best described as _Night Meets Light_ Part 2. The rest of the album is live and a little too country for my tastes(evern for the Dixie Dregs). Listen, I'm a huge Dixie Dregs fan...but this one was a huge bummer in my books. The real crime on this website is why the Dixie Dregs reunion album _Full Circle_ from 1994 has very few ratings. Now, that's a 4 to 5 star album!
Report this review (#175427)
Posted Thursday, June 26, 2008 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars When I first learned of the Dixie Dregs, and bought all of their albums, this was my least favorite. Now that I have matured, I like it at least as much as most of their other albums, maybe more than all but "What If". The engineering on this, even the original Polydor CD version is amazing. All the instruments sound crystal clear.

The album is set up in two halves. The first half is four studio recordings, and the second is four live tracks. The studio half includes "Punk Sandwich" (which isn't punk at all, thankfully), and "Country House Shuffle" (which doesn't sound very much like country to me, either), both of which became live staples for the Dregs. "The Riff Raff", primarily a violin/acoustic guitar duet, is a sort of baroque sounding tune which, to me, almost invokes Gentle Giant's "Funny Ways".

The live half is more raucous, with "Night Of The Living Dregs", a blazingly fasy version of "The Bash" and "Patchwork" (where the Dregs show they can play both kinds of music country and western).

Report this review (#230631)
Posted Saturday, August 8, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Certainly not on par with What If, Night of the Living Dregs does however, contain more great tracks from this undoubtedly fun band. It's short, and the half live idea is a bit of a cop out, but most of the music is good enough to justify this as a solid, but far from essential, album.

The studio tracks. If you like previous Dregs, you'll like these, but the irony is that if you've got some older Dregs, these may--I repeat may--seem a bit redundant. Punk Sandwich is the Dregs in straighforward rocking mode, and of course they do this well, but not spectacularly so. Country House Shuffle is a highlight, with Rod providing some percussion craziness, followed by a nice country rocker. This is the Dregs at their best. Long Slow Distance is also quite nice, although perhaps shares some overlap with What If's Night Meets Light.

The live tracks. There's no doubt this band would be able to shine the brightest in stage. Talented, flexible, fun-loving, and clearly musical showmen, the Dregs' audience is clearly wider than progressive rockers or fusion-heads. The highlight is The Bash. It's a fairly generic country groove and progression, but at around 1 minute in, Morse gets his turn and just tears things up. Good grief, Steve Morse is fast! Just in case we needed a reminder...

Fun, solid, and a fair representation of the band's abilities. Not their best, but a good supplement to any Dregs collection.

Report this review (#286213)
Posted Saturday, June 12, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars The stereotypical caricature of a white Anglo Saxon male residing anywhere south of the Mason/Dixon line of demarcation in the United States is that of a crimson-necked, tobacco- chewing, Chevy truck-owning, gimme cap-wearing, boot-scooting, snaggle-toothed, Merle Haggard-loving Bubba who thinks Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird" guitar orgy represents progressive rock at its finest. Most of the civilized world thinks we're all like that but I'll have you know it's not a fair assessment. I have it on good authority that at least 1% of us don't fit any of those close-minded descriptions and the very existence of the Florida-based band Dixie Dregs proves beyond any reasonable doubt that those of us of the more "cosmopolitan" persuasion are apt to get downright radical and adventurous with our music. So there! I'll admit that being a member of such a microscopic-sized minority tends to make one tight-lipped about sharing his listening preferences since rumors of ELP tee shirt-clad fellows being lynched in roadside pecan trees have yet to be dispelled. Better to spit and utter an occasional "yeehaw" than to be identified as a progger, in other words. Life is safer and more secure around these parts if we aural revolutionaries opt to err on the side of caution.

Having said all that silly gibberish I confess to being a blatant hypocrite because I've never heard a single note from this brave group of virtuosos until just a few weeks ago when I picked up this pre-owned LP on a whim. I certainly knew of them and that they weren't your average whisky-swillin' Tallahassee bar band but, for one strange reason or another, chose to callously ignore them for decades. My bad. If this album is representative of what they've been up to during their career then I've stupidly deprived myself of the kind of jazz rock/fusion magic that gets my adrenaline pumping every time I'm exposed to it. These guys are the real deal and they don't take a back seat to anyone in their esteemed genre. Their audacity to remain stubbornly true to themselves in defiance of the deeply-rooted regional tastes and preferences that surround them on every side alone is worthy of respect. But I suspect they don't want or need our pity because they do a remarkable job of cutting a fiery swath through the rural countryside that rivals that of Sherman's Union army as they marched ruthlessly toward Atlanta.

These boys grab you by the lapels from the get go with "Punk Sandwich," a boisterous, hard rockin' number that'd be right at home either at a prog convention or a NASCAR race in the Carolinas. It features a crisp, clean but very strong guitar beginning and a slew of stinging accents and kicks performed with astounding tightness. Solos from Steve Morse's guitar, Allen Sloan's violin and Mark Parrish's Hammond organ all sizzle and you're instantly made aware of why Mr. Morse perches permanently with the upper echelon of prog guitar gods. His regal reputation is not empty hype. When the tune ended with a big, fat synthesizer note I knew I was in for more treats to come. Rod Morgenstein's rumbling drums and percussion at the opening of "Country House Shuffle" is a nice surprise that leads directly to an intriguing, optimistic melody pattern that makes me envision the Mahavishnu Orchestra on mood-enhancing medication. The seamless cohesion of the arrangement is exceptional and Steve delivers a song-ending guitar ride that would make even the legendary Jeff Beck raise an eyebrow.

"The Riff Raff" makes it three aces in a row as this contemplative violin/classical guitar piece displays the vastness of this combo's range and acumen. It's a complex composition that doesn't take short cuts and, in the process, sounds like nothing else on the album. Makes it very hard to stick a convenient label on this band's work. I love lone piano intros and Parrish doesn't disappoint during his brief stint in the spotlight for the onset of "Long Slow Distance." While jotting down notes for this tune I tried to come up with another I could compare it to but I was stumped. These creative musicians carved out their own unique niche with songs like this. Steve's acoustic guitar lead proves that he's not just some crank-it-and-shred-like-a-jigsaw gunslinger and the whole group is constantly aware of the supreme importance of erecting structural melodies inside their art. The track slowly fades away with Morse and Parrish trading head-spinning licks as they disappear over the distant horizon. Delightful.

If not for the applause of the discriminating '78 Montreux Jazz Festival crowd it would be difficult (if not impossible) to discern that the rest of this album was taped live from the stage. Yep, they're that good. "Night of the Living Dregs" has an undeniable Return to Forever vibe running through it and that's okay except that Andy West's solo, despite being a decent enough bassist, makes it crystal clear that he's not in Stanley Clarke's league (few are) and it's a bit of a Dreg drag. Yet I must offer praise for the way the band deftly blends all the different instruments together without a causing a nasty pileup. The group- penned "The Bash" (a variation of the bluegrass staple "The Wabash Cannonball") is next and the audience eats it up like free ice cream. I've always been a sucker for guitarists that can play fast (even though being able to do so is no indication of great skill necessarily) because in my 30+ years of string strummin' I never came even close to being called "Sir Speedy." You either have it or you don't and Morse has it in spades as he demonstrates here. Sloan's violin valiantly tries to keep up with him but Steve blazes a trail constantly while summoning a variety of tones from his axe. You may deem this tune hokey as cornbread dressing but I think it's awesome fun.

"Leprechaun Promenade" is rather schizophrenic. It waffles between soothing, laid back contemporary jazz grooves and sudden onslaughts of sharp, dynamic, edgy riffs that keep you guessing from start to finish. It's a conglomeration of ideas that have no business hanging out with each other but somehow they dance in perfect harmony. Fascinating stuff. "Patchwork" is the closer and if there's such a thing as good 'ol boy southern prog rock this is its anthem. They miraculously manage to draw inspiration from their down home influences without patronizing or glorifying them and the song has so many cool nooks and crannies to gaze into as it flows by there's never a dull moment to be endured. These five men are a frickin' force of nature.

Since all but one of the tunes was written by Steve Morse it's apparent that this is his baby but I never got the impression that he considers himself to be the star of the show. This, in every aspect of the term, is a band effort. Specifically, they're individual masters of their respective instruments who know how to cooperate and present a united front. Needless to say, I'm blown away and now wish I'd seen the light about these Dixie renegades a lot earlier. "Night of the Living Dregs" gets my highest 4-star rating only because I don't know if this is their masterpiece or not but I intend to explore them further and it's not inconceivable that I may come back and add that fifth star in the future. This is exceptional fusion fare, folks.

Report this review (#317959)
Posted Saturday, November 13, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars In their third album, the Dixie Dregs still haven't really strayed from the sound that flourished in their first few releases. But then again it's so diverse, there really isn't any point. For this reason, there really isn't too much more to say about it.

You have your rockers in 'Punk Sandwich,' and 'Country House Shuffle,' and the slightly jazzy/funky 'Night of the Living Dregs.' The slower The Riff Raff' and 'Long Slow Distance' are good also, as are the Jetho Tull sounding 'Leprechaun Promenade' and crazy upbeat 'The Bash.'

Overall, this is yet another strong release from the all instrumental jazz rockers.


Report this review (#771389)
Posted Friday, June 15, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Following some critical success and an extended tour throughout the States, Dixie Dregs were up to release a few live pieces for the first time.Their next album ''Night of the living dregs'' was actually a mix of studio material, recorded in different studios, and live tracks, captured during the performance of the band at the Montreux Jazz Festival on July 23, 1978.It was also the last album of Dixie Dregs on Capricorn Records and the first to by the band to receive a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Instrumental Performance, eventually released in April 1979.

The studio material shows the band following a more conventional style of playing, now offering lots of happy tunes and pleasant melodies, but the performances are still kept in a good level, featuring again some sudden breaks, American-styled rockin' grooves and impressive violin work by Allen Sloan.''The Riff Raff'' actually sounds more like an American Folk interpretation, based exclusively on acoustic guitars and violin, while the rest of the studio tracks suggest again Dixie Dregs' strong influences by MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA and Country Music.The guys produced emphatic, jazzy music with a good bunch of interplays and tight structures, somewhat misdirected by their love for rural flavors.

Live tracks are coming in the already familiar style of the Fusion band, maybe sometimes with a more pronounced Southern Rock/Country taste like on ''The bash'' or ''Patchwork'', but tracks like ''Leprechaun promenade'' and the eponymous one show Dixie Dregs' love for dense, instrumental Jazz/Fusion, led by powerful drumming, instrumental interactions and a constant change of tempos.For the first time some nice keyboard parts, including Moog synthesizer and Hammond organ, come in evidence, and the personal sound of the band is displayed with great energy.

Not exactly up there with thr fantastic ''What if'', still this well-played Jazz/Fusion with soaring violin and rich instrumentals, developing from enjoyable themes to complex ideas.Recommended.

Report this review (#1182382)
Posted Monday, June 2, 2014 | Review Permalink

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