Monday, July 18, 2016

The Greatest Album Is...Under The Table And Dreaming

Every band that has been around for a while and released great records runs into this debate; what is their greatest album? The greatest album is… is a column dedicated to tackling that age old question. What is the greatest album recorded by Dave Matthews Band? Join with us now as the question is answered and arguments are made that the greatest Dave Matthews Band album is Under The Table And Dreaming.

It’s easy to state that any of the “Big 3” albums, the first three albums in the Dave Matthews Band catalog, deserves the illustrious title of greatest. Yet, when stacked against each other and played back to back several times through, one album nudges out the others. That album is Under The Table And Dreaming. The biggest reason for this has to be the overall depth of the lyrics and themes of the songs. While Crash has a sadder tone, and Before These Crowded Streets covers dark and lustful themes, Under The Table And Dreaming conveys messages of hope. Perhaps it was the innocence of a very young Dave Matthews, but most of these songs are free of any cynicism, anger, or doubt. 

There are several brilliant and beautiful songs on Under The Table And Dreaming including “What Would You Say,” “Best Of What’s Around” “Dancing Nancies” and the band’s staple song “Ants Marching.” However, better than even all of them is the rarely spotlighted gem “Lover Lay Down.” It is a smooth jazz, romantic song that features some of the best vocal work of Matthews’’ career and some intense soprano saxophone by the late great LeRoi Moore. “Lover Lay Down” is a dreamer’s song---a great tune to contemplate one’s love life over. 

Another masterpiece, and perhaps my favorite Dave Matthews Band song of all time, is “Jimi Thing.” And while it may currently be less loved due to concert overplay, the studio version is astonishing. “Jimi Thing” is a terrific tune about not letting the chaotic pressure of life overtake you. There’s always time to sit back, relax, and find our “Jimi Thing.” That one thing that takes us away to a special place where we can sit back and ponder all that is good in the world. A deeper dive into the lyrics shows thinly veiled references to marijuana, but our “Jimi Thing” can be almost anything: a muse, a memory, a favorite food, anything that takes us away and calms us for a while. 

Released in the band’s infancy, Under The Table And Dreaming put Dave Matthews Band on the radar of music fans all across America. Producer Steve Lillywhite was able to take the best of what he found in this young group and get the most out of them. Every member of the band had an opportunity to shine and showcase their talents. This is an album where not one member dominates the others; it is a true group recording. And when every member of the band plays to their strengths it lifts each song higher than they would have otherwise been. The whole work of art is captured through the individualistic style of each musician playing together as one. At moments, it is breathtaking. 

Filled with countless amazing songs, Under The Table And Dreaming is one of the most magnificent debut albums ever released. The positive undertones resonate throughout the entire record and leave the listener with feelings of joy and gratitude upon completion. It is a record that can be enjoyed over and over again, with each additional listen providing another nuance of bliss, another reason to love the album. Almost all of the songs have stood the test of time in the 22 years since its release and still have relevancy today. Performed by great musicians who were young, hungry, and hitting their stride, Under The Table And Dreaming is a masterpiece that only the young version of this band could create.
The greatest album is…Under The Table And Dreaming.

Vital Statistics
Released: September 27, 1994
Produced by: Steven Lillywhite
RIAA Sales: 6x Platinum
Peak Position on the US Charts: 11
John Popper played the harmonica on “What Would You Say”
Tim Reynolds played acoustic and electric guitar throughout the album
After “Pay For What You Get” there are 22 blank tracks before “#34” appears as the 34th track on the disc
Only one of two Dave Matthews Band albums that did not chart at number one in the US

What Would You Say
Jimi Thing
Typical Situation
Ants Marching

Track Listing
Best Of What’s Around
What Would You Say
Rhyme & Reason
Typical Situation
Dancing Nancies
Ants Marching
Lover Lay Down
Jimi Thing
Pay For What You Get

Band Members
Carter Beauford – drums, percussion, vocals
Stefan Lessard – bass guitar
Dave Matthews – vocals, acoustic guitar
LeRoi Moore – saxophones, flute, vocals
Boyd Tinsley – acoustic violin, vocals

Monday, July 11, 2016

Sum 41 - Fake My Own Death

Sum 41 is gearing up for the release of their new album, 13 Voices with the release of the first video, “Fake My Own Death.” This is an excellent song and I am anxiously awaiting the release of the entire album. 

Sum 41…you rock!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Pop Evil Releases 360 Degree Video For "Take It All"

Pop Evil has released an extremely cool video for my favorite song from Up, “Take It All.” Check it out below.The video was filmed during the band's performance at the Aftershock Festival in 2015.

It was nice to see Chachi behind the drum kit for this video. I am still processing the fact that he is no longer in the band.

Pop Evil will be on tour with 3 Doors Down starting in August and will be touring Canada prior to that. You can see all their tour dates at

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Review: Watts - The Black Heart Of Rock N Roll

The Watts have returned much to the joy of The Rock And Roll Guru! After falling in love with their last album, I was delighted to listen to their latest release, The Black Heart Of Rock N Roll. I was overjoyed after the first play through. Watts took everything that was great about their previous release and built upon it. The end result is a magnificent collection of songs that is available for rock music lover’s ear consumption.

There aren’t any weak spots on The Black Heart Of Rock N Roll. Every song is a gem. Watts stuck to what they are good at – four bar, four part, bar band rock and roll. They have a good mix of bands like Drive By Truckers, Rolling Stones, Against Me, and Chuck Berry in their DNA. They are an exceptional blend of alt country, blues, punk, and good old fashioned rock and roll. And isn’t that what the best bands are made of?

“Up All Night” is a bouncing beauty with a magnificent bass line that hooks the listener early. This is a song that makes you want to jump up and dance, or maybe even do a little duck walking in your living room. Like most songs by this band, “Up All Night” is just straight out fun! “Up All Night” proves that simple can be magnificent. It is a short burst of song that is big on energy and enjoyment.

The majority of songs on The Black Heart Of Rock N Roll are short and sweet. The entire album is barely over 30 minutes long. However, that only ups the replay value. Watts definitely leaves the listener wanting more, and so the repeat button is hit at the end of the last track. Each song is short and sweet, showcasing only the best Watts has to offer.

The message in “Bye & Bye” is that life is too short to give yourself away. These are true words reinforced with exceptional vocals and a terrific guitar solo that drives the point home. Don’t settle for anything less than the best is the true essence of the stated message. “Bye & Bye” is a reminder of a simple statement. Nothing less than the best will do. Don’t give in. Don’t give up. And don’t give yourself away.

One of the best songs the band ever recorded shows up near the end of the record. “The B Side” is a foot stomping, hand clapping, hell of a good time in the form of music. I couldn’t stop listening to the song for the first week I had this album. ”The B Side” a short, quick, blast of fun guaranteed to bring a smile to your face and put a little pep in your step.

Watts have once again delivered a fine piece of musical art for all to enjoy. The Black Heart Of Rock N Roll is simple, fun, enjoyable rock and roll that no one knows how to make anymore. This band has taken rock music and boiled it down to its simplest elements---and that’s what great music is about. Steady drums and dazzling guitar solos will always be a rock and roll staple and always be loved. That is where Watts are masters. Add in some fine lyric writing, exceptional vocals, and a whole lot of fun and you have the definition of Watts --- a damn good rock and roll band!

The Black Heart Of Rock N Roll is available now. Get some!

Ryo’s Rating: 9 (out of 10)

Track Listing
The Black Heart Of Rock N Roll
Up All Night
She’s So Electric
Strut (Like A Champ)
Bye & Bye
Stage Fright
Fast & Loose
The B Side
Bring On The Lights