Artist: Widespread Panic
Album: Street Dogs
Release Date: 09/25/2015
Four years after they formed in Athens, Georgia in 1986, Widespread Panic released their second album on the reactivated Capricorn Records label, a Southern rock cornerstone. Universally acclaimed, Widespread Panic turned that misjudged old genre on its ear at the same time it held onto a few of its finer tenets. Ultimately, Panic became synonymous with jam band music, right or wrong. Street Dogs is their twelfth studio album, and first in five years. While the band obviously drinks from clear-cut wells, the musical taste is always pure Widespread Panic.
Starting off on the stomp of “Sell, Sell,” they draw you right into a bold and catchy blues of bad compromise. Guitarist Jimmy Herring goes to town on the song, raging rock ‘n’ roll in his solo. Willie Dixon’s old Howlin’ Wolf tune, “Tail Dragger,” cements the band’s blues cred, but some Garth Hudson-influenced organ by John Hermann sets it apart. New Orleans is the spark for “Cease Fire,” but the blistering heat the tune gives off at its outset turns into inspired rambling jazz in a Pink Floyd-like mode from the middle onward. Herring this time lays out lines in the fusion fashion he’s a certified master at. “Angels Don’t Sing the Blues” also begins one way and ends quite the other, its quick folk music pace slowing to a meander, delivering the profound message profoundly throughout. A sunny flow throughout “The Poorhouse of Positive Thinking” gives way to a blues/rock barrage in “Welcome to My World.” And that’s the way it goes– inspired excellence in every way, all the way.
– Tom Clarke