Live at Mojo

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Rather stretching the definition of live, Dreadnaught recorded this two-CD set at Mojo Studio in New Hampshire in late 2003. What they were attempting to capture was the immediacy of the BBC Radio One sessions, for which sadly there is no American equivalent. The band succeeded admirably, there's a definite spontaneity to the set, albeit a studied one, a reflection perhaps of the tour the band had just completed. In any event, Dreadnaught present new takes on numbers drawn from their previous three studio albums, along with an astute selection of covers, and a handful of new songs. The covers are telling; ranging from Frank Zappa to John Entwistle, and standards like the Grateful Dead's "Dark Star," Jerry Lee Lewis' "Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On" and Dick Curless' trucker classic "Tombstone Every Mile."

Surprisingly, perhaps, the band rein in their more extravagant excursions on these versions, saving their more experimental sounds for their own compositions. Sound-wise, Dreadnaught continue to stray too far from the mainstream to pigeonhole. Country-rock, avant-garde blues, prog- funk, experimental rock -- any and all of these labels are accurate, yet each only begins to brush the surface of the band's style. The arrangements boast unusual rhythmic patterns, and are built around Bob Lord's strong basslines, which are well to the fore. Meanwhile, guitarist Justin Walton agilely skips across genres, cracking out R&B riffs with aplomb, lashing searing solos into the grooves, soaring into Jimi Hendrix- esque extravagance, then pulling back into moodier, more evocative pastures. Dreadnaught will never be the new Phish or Primus (although there are elements of both within their sound), but they are as daringly different, and far more encompassing in their styling.

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