Widespread Panic

Another Joyous Occasion

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After the success of its first live album -- 1998's Light Fuse, Get Away -- and after parting with longtime label Capricorn Records, Widespread Panic self-released this album comprised of live tracks from its 1999 summer and fall tours. The band's greatest strength has always been its live shows. Vocalist John Bell's expressive ad-libbing coupled with the powerful percussive sounds generated by Domingo S. Ortiz and Mike Houser's searing guitar riffs keep loyal fans on the road. The problem with this album is the addition of 1999 touring companions the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. What began as an interesting infusion of brass sounds turned into a discordant attempt at jamming. The Dirty Dozen players just add clutter to Widespread Panic's already full sound. There are a couple of exceptions. The rousing version of the Stevie Wonder classic "Superstition" is enhanced by the Dirty Dozen's soaring horns, as is the jazzy rock of "Weight of the World." For the most part, each song is improved by the brass players, it's not until the post-song jam that things fall apart. This album offers a glance into the creativity and inspired moments that can take place during Widespread Panic's live show, but it also demonstrates what can go wrong. For a more accurate glimpse of the band's live potential, pick up a copy of the brilliant Light Fuse, Get Away.

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