Jack Casady

Dream Factor

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Jack Casady first came to fame as an original member of the Jefferson Airplane and later, Hot Tuna. The first solo album (at age 59) from this well-traveled and prolific bassist, Dream Factor, is a mixed affair. Unlike most rock bass-playing frontmen, Casady does not sing, so his contributions to his debut are relegated to the occasional bass solo, and as co-writer of nearly all the tracks. Sadly, his songwriting isn't as innovative or inspirational as his bass playing, which results in a passable Southern rock, folk, and blues album without much focus. Casady calls in friends from Gov't Mule (drummer Matt Abts and guitarist Warren Haynes), along with Little Feat guitarist Paul Barrére, Ivan Neville, and the Tubes' Fee Waybill, among others, to help with vocals. All do an admirable job, but ultimately, the album rests on the strength of its songs, most of which are adequate but far from riveting. When Casady does step out on the burning instrumental jazz-rock fusion "Outside" (which also features Haynes), and again in the middle section of the folksy "Weight of Sin," you finally get a sense of his unique bass-playing talents. But the disc is dominated by pleasant, vaguely West Coast folk-pop ballads that never catch fire. If it's second-rate Jackson Browne or R.E.M. you're looking for, this will fill the bill. But those anticipating this legendary bass player's long-awaited solo debut to showcase his considerable instrumental abilities will likely be disappointed.

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