Hearing Aide: Widespread Panic ‘Street Dogs’

Widespread Panic‘s latest studio album, Street Dogs, combines the best of Panic’s southern sound – straight rockers, New Orleans-inspired funk, and choice covers – honed over nearly 30 years on the road. Recorded at Echo Mountain studios in Asheville, N.C. by longtime producer/collaborator John Keane, Street Dogs finds the band recording together for the first time, leading to a refined yet not polished album, one that commands repeat listens.

Alan Price’s “Sell Sell” opens the album, a driving version of the original with John Bell following the varying cadences of the tongue-tying lyrics. “Steven’s Cat,” an ode to the influential Cat Stevens, is the first Panic song written in the studio by the band and stands out as one of the strongest songs of the album, both for the thought-provoking lyrics and the blend of all six band members sound – no one outshines another.

“Cease Fire,” a JB rap that dates back to 1999 is reborn as one of the strongest new jam vehicles of 2015, which, along with “Honky Red,” (Murray McLauchlan) is Exhibit A in the musical relationship between Father-in-Law/Son-in-Law Duane Trucks and Jimmy Herring, showcasing a guitar/drums combo rarely found with such polish. “The Poorhouse of Positive Thinking,” a classic JoJo Hermann number, uses colorful lyrics and a Professor Longhair-style yarn to frame a mild piano ride. Willie Dixon’s “Taildragger,” the third cover on Street Dogs, is tailor made for Herring’s guitar and JB’s guttural vocals, while the album wraps up with the title track, a sing along that vivdly returns the listener to the streets of New Orleans.

Key Tracks: Steven’s Cat, Cease Fire, The Poorhouse of Positive Thinking, Honky Red

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