Dixie Dregs: Cruise Control
Bring 'em Back Alive (Capricorn 9 42005-2)
Steve Morse (electric guitar),
T Lavitz (keyboards), Allen Sloan (violin), Dave LaRue (bass), Rod Morgenstern (drums).
Composed by Dixie Dregs.
Recorded: Atlanta, GA, February 1992
Rating: 93/100 (learn more)
You would think that Southern rock, the purview of such bands as Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Cowboys and Poco, would not find common ground with jazz-rock fusion. You would be wrong. The Dixie Dregs, though eschewing vocals, have fused the two seemingly disparate genres with great success for three decades. You can throw the influences of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Jeff Beck, Deep Purple and ZZ Top into the stew that has nourished the music of the Dregs. ("Dixie" was dropped from the name a few years back).
Led by the phenomenal guitarist Steve Morse, Dixie Dregs have become a legendary live experience. The lineup has changed a bit over the years. But this edition with keyboardist Lavitz, drummer Morgenstern, violinist Sloane and bassist LaRue was as good a representation as any of its incarnations.
After some ambient distractions, "Cruise Control" starts its life as a down-home blues boogie. It gains steam. An injection of Grand Funk Railroad insulin is given. Sloan plays Mahavishnu on violin. Morgenstern wows the crowd with a powerful drum solo and percussion follow-up. A solemn organ ushers in an insistent cowbell and a further drum barrage. Morse offers his version of fusion chicken-picking. He then furiously trades at overdrive speed with Lavitz before the tune reintroduces the boogie element. At its apex, the tune ends abruptly. The lights are turned on. The crowd leaves sated, but must stop on the way home to grab a bite and a drink to discuss what they just heard.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky