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Dixie Dregs - 'Dregs Of The Earth' / 'Unsung Heroes' / 'Industry Standard' http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/02/15/3e/dixie-dregs-dregs-of-the-earth-unsung-heroes-industry-standard-30-1445457268.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     October 21, 2015    
 
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This value-for-money package provides a chance for European fans to delve into this classic U.S. band.

Best known for having their 1977 track 'Take It Off The Top' used as the theme tune for Tommy Vance's Friday Rock Show, and a line-up that included current Deep Purple guitarist Steve Morse and Winger drummer Rod Morgenstein, Georgia's Dixie Dregs were certainly a band of amazing musicians with their own unique sound. With an almost exclusively instrumental mix of Hard Rock, Jazz, Country and Progressive Rock, they released eight studio albums between 1976 and 1994, this two-disc re-issue covering albums five, six and seven, recorded between 1980 and 1982.

Having established their reputation as musicians and writers through the iconic 'Free Fall' and 'What If' albums, many found 1979's 'Night Of The Living Dregs' a bit disappointing, but thankfully they were back on track with 'Dregs Of The Earth'. Eight mostly accessible tunes include the typical Morse melodies of the upbeat Rocker 'Road Expense', the slow Boogie of 'Twiggs Approved' and 'Broad Street Strut's Jazzy grooves, alongside offbeat selections like the lively Country hoedown of 'Pride O' The Farm' and the beautiful 'Old World', a simpler vehicle for Allen Sloan's emotive violin and Morse's acoustic guitar. Pick of the bunch is the quirky 'I'm Freaking Out', a Zappa-like Jazz Rocker based around the brilliant keyboard work of T. Lavitz and Andy West's inventive bass. It's also perhaps ironic that 'Hereafter' has a melodic arrangement not dissimilar to Kansas.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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By 1981 they'd dropped the 'Dixie' part of the name and were going out simply as The Dregs, kicking off the 'Unsung Heroes' record with a new, shorter and sharper version of their Jeff Beck-influenced 'Cruise Control', on which the alternate solos between Morse, Lavitz and Sloan are a joy to behold. Other highlights include West's fret-less bass on the slowly building 'Day 444', the upbeat Boogie workout 'Rock & Roll Park', Sloan's violin work on 'Attila The Hun' and the stunning 'Kat Food', which is light-hearted, Funky and instrumentally dazzling. Their humour also comes through on the mellow closer 'Go For Baroque'

It's never been fully documented if the slight diversion in style for 1982's 'Industry Standard' was their own idea or that of the record company. Either way there were two vocal tracks to try to get more airplay, guest singer Patrick Simmons of The Doobie Brothers lending his amazing tone to the straight-ahead Blues Rocker 'Ridin' High', whilst Santana's legendary Alex Ligertwood does a similar job on the great driving Rocker 'Crank It Up', sounding for all the world like Steve Walsh and pre-dating the style and direction that Walsh and Morse would take Kansas in for the 'Power' record the following year. The rest is in more familiar territory, albeit with a thicker production and grittier guitar sound from Morse. New violinist Mark O'Connor makes his presence felt on 'Assembly Line' and the Country strains of both 'Chips Ahoy' and the amusingly titled 'Where's Dixie?', whilst there's a big riff running through 'Bloodsucking Leeches' and the whole band get a chance to shine during the sublime 'Vitamin Q'. '...Standard', as good as it is, was a last gasp attempt at major acceptance and one that resulted in the band going their separate ways for over a decade, until the reunited for the autobiographical 'Full Circle' in 1994.

The re-mastering of these albums is excellent, although for me, it's tempered by already owning the stunning Japanese SHM-CD re-issues of a few years ago, and whilst I'm not a fan of spreading three albums out over two discs, at least none of the individual albums are split like others in the BGO catalogue (two full albums on disc one, one on disc two!). This value-for-money package provides a chance for European fans to delve into this classic U.S. band.

Phil Ashcroft

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