Dixie Dregs
Freefall


4.5
superb

Review

by undertakerpt USER (24 Reviews)
October 12th, 2012 | 87 replies | 2,758 views


Release Date: 1977 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Never overcooked, The Dixie Dregs are the perfect oven for Steve Morse's baking!

4 of 4 thought this review was well written

Steve Morse is a guitar player who has done quite well for himself. After forming his appropriately named Steve Morse band in 1984, he was able to get coverage by supporting Rush on their "Power Windows" tour. His talents were then recognised by prog rockers Kansas, and joined the band on guitar in 1986. He stayed on board for their 2 albums, "Power" and "In the spirit of things" before leaving to fulfil commitments to his other projects. Moreover, in 1994 he joined another famous rock band, by the name of Deep Purple, and is often credited with getting the band back on track after refreshing their sound. He has also been voted "Best Overall Guitarist" by Guitar Player magazine for 5 years in a row, which managed to gain him a place in their "Hall Of Fame" which only consists of 2 other guitar players; Steve Howe of Yes, and Eric Johnson. And if that wasn't enough to impress you then you can also blame him for influencing John Petrucci of Dream Theater to be as talented as he is.

But where did it all begin for Morse? Everyone has got to start somewhere and Morse started out early in 1975 with a 5 piece jazz fusion outfit called the Dixie Dregs. The Dregs are indeed recognised by most as a jazz fusion band, but incorporate a lot of other elements into their music, such as country, bluegrass, classical and hard rock. creating a very unique and diverse listen. Although having constant line-up changes throughout the years, the group is still going strong today, but also features loose collaborations from former members in live shows.

1977's Free Fall was the band's first release on a major label. (Their former LP, The Great Spectacular originally had 1000 copies pressed and sold amongst their local university of Miami.) All compositions on the album were written by Morse himself and are entirely instrumental. But Morse's arrangements are handled very skilfully by the bands musicians. Often regarded as the "Classic line-up" on this record, the band were:

Steve Morse - Guitar, Banjo, Keyboards, Guitar Synth
Andy West - Bass guitar
Allen Sloan – Strings, Violin, Viola, Electric Violin
Stephen Davidowski – Keyboards
Rod Morgenstein – Drums, Percussion

So why has Steve Morse been inducted into a hall of fame for a popular guitar magazine? Well, on this album, as far as song-writing and originality goes, and considering Mr Morse was at a young age, he is incredibly capable of creating diverse song structures, such as Funk, classical, jazz, ho-down, bluegrass, country, rock and the bizarre. His guitar playing on the other hand, is quite a surprise. Often hiding in the background of most of his songs, he leaves the showing-off to Sloan and Davidowski, only ripping out a blistering guitar solo when needed. This is a very fair way to go, because his playing style does not get boring and gives the other members a chance to keep songs interesting.

The song arrangements are also of very high quality but sound unique due to the instrumentation used. Take Davidowski's keyboard effects for example. Ever heard a jazz-country-funk breakdown with a digital synth alien laser beam effect solo, whilst a footstompingly good delay-drenched electric violin follows up with a pentatonic jam? (Free fall) The next track (Holiday) is a festive, Christmassy type piece, but with odd time signatures and terrific key changes and also features a blistering crunch soaked guitar solo over a jazzy breakdown, but still manages to sound Christmas-like! Another album highlight is the longest track (Cruise Control) which sounds like a straightforward hard-rock track, until it enters some kind of ceremonial medieval wedding/knighting event with a Brian May guitar leading the way. It then progresses into an epic guitar vs keyboard vs violin vs bass call and response battle of the band!

The last track on the album (Northern Lights) takes Steve's arrangement skills to a whole new level though. The track is a duet, with Steve on Spanish guitar and Sloan on violin, and could easily be a great movie theme, a classical number known worldwide or even an ode to a famous life. The piece is breathtakingly magnificent and should be heard by all.

Due to the high quality of the pieces, not all tracks can live up to them in comparison. The 6th track (Sleep) being a prime example of this, sounds utterly filler and could have been left off the album. But apart from that one mishap, Free Fall is a solid 4.5 in rating due to diversity, originality and quality of the compositions. Steve Morse, we salute you!

Recommended tracks:
Free Fall
Holiday
Refried Funky Chicken
Cruise Control
Dig The Ditch
Northern Lights



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user ratings (24)
Chart.
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
OmairSh
October 12th 2012



10868 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Dayum that was quick :D. Good review, a brief history lesson included :-). What an amazing band, and
to think Steve composed all the songs, especially at that age, speaks magnitudes of his musical
maturity.

And there are a lot more dregs fans than we thought, already 14 ratings! And I love sleep, such a
gorgeous short track.

Digging: Paco de Lucia - El Duende Flamenco

undertakerpt
October 12th 2012



1271 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Haha, I had a day off today so thought I'd get on it! Nah sleep isnt for me, it's a nice track and all but I feel it doesnt compare to the rest of the disc.

Ovrot
October 12th 2012



10490 Comments


dixie dregs rule

OmairSh
October 12th 2012



10868 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nicee, a day well spent I say. I love cruise controls dramatic change around the halfway mark.

undertakerpt
October 12th 2012



1271 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@Ovrot, you rule!

@OmairSh, and before breakfast as-well! The Brian May bit you mean? Very unexpected change indeed.


LegendofPittman
October 12th 2012



2943 Comments


I need to listen to this album, Steve Morse's alternate picking is the craziest thing I've ever heard. haha, we had to play Cruise Control at my vocational school I just graduated from, such a fun song.

undertakerpt
October 12th 2012



1271 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@LegendofPittman Did you?? Wow what did you play and did you get a recording? Bet you had hell of a laugh!

LegendofPittman
October 12th 2012



2943 Comments


Yep I played guitar, no recordings though but it was a ton of fun! haha

OmairSh
October 12th 2012



10868 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@undertaker Yep the Brian May part, its so refreshing. And Moe Downs solo section is amazing, love the guitar tone and the violin. Btw what does the pt in your nick stand for if you don't my asking?

@Legend Nicee, that's surprising, Dixie Dregs is mainstream?! Haha :P. His alternate picking is crazy but he tends to use it too much at times during solos, can get annoying.

OmairSh
October 12th 2012



10868 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Steve Morse makes country music bearable/enjoyable

undertakerpt
October 12th 2012



1271 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@LegendofPittman You are a Legend!(ofPittman)

@OmairSh Port Talbot, a shitty town in Wales

OmairSh
October 12th 2012



10868 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@undertakerpt, oh right, a close friend used to live in bangor, apparently they weren't too thrilled about living there :P.

Steven Wilson should remix and remaster the dregs albums, we should start a petition :D.

undertakerpt
October 12th 2012



1271 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@Omarish, Haha Bangor, nice place in the north, but far from me as i'm way down south, but at least it doesnt have a huge steel works on its doorstep! You from England?

Everyone goes on about this Steven Wilson guy, but Iv'e only heard fear of a blank planet and it bored me quite a bit! But he did well on Opeth's Blackwater park!

MikeC26
October 12th 2012



3173 Comments


nice review man, pos'd. I like Morse's style and have been meaning to get into his music.

undertakerpt
October 12th 2012



1271 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@MikeC26, Cheers mate, loving the Devin Townsend prof pic

This is a great place to start, and "What if" by the Dregs is just as good.

OmairSh
October 12th 2012



10868 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Steven Wilson is a modern day genius. Fear was a good album, but if it bored you then I'm not sure what to say :P. He produced deliverance and damnation as well and played keyboards on all 3. Fantastic musician with a great sense and who doesn't mind experimentation. He Remastered King Crimsons Red, In the court, and Red, as well as Aqualung and Caravans In The Land Of Grey And Pink, and remixed in 5.1. I'm from Pakistan actually :-).

undertakerpt
October 12th 2012



1271 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@OmairSh, really? I own Red, Court and Land of Grey, but they must be the normal versions lol. I really want to hear these new mixes now damn. I was told to buy more porcupine tree though so i'll have to embark on another cd spree soon.

Pakistan? Haha, now I see why you wanted vindaloo, lucky son-of-a-bitch I bet you get the best tasting curry there too!

OmairSh
October 12th 2012



10868 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah but he only remastered them recently, 40th anniversary editions. He loves producing and we love hearing his end product :D. Yeah Porcupine Tree is great, In Absentia onward is more metal inclined, with Stupid Dream and Lightbulb Sun being more Pop-ish/Prog rock and the early albums inclining towards psychedelic prog. All the work is quality so which ever genre inclination you like more, check those out. Plus you have plenty of reviews of the albums on this site at your convenient disposal :D.

Haha well it all seems more glamorous from the outside, as do a lot of things. We go for fast food when we're tired of the curry haha, but you're welcome to visit anytime for "authentic" curry ;-D.


OmairSh
October 12th 2012



10868 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@Mike Dregs of the Earth and What if are great, as well as Unsung Heroes

OmairSh
October 12th 2012



10868 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah undertaker if you're going out on that spree then don't forget ADHD! I don't know why I keep pushing you to buy it when I'm uncertain how you'll take it, hopefully it'll be better than the vindaloo!



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