Ball [DualDisc]

Ball [DualDisc]

by Widespread PanicWidespread Panic

CD

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Overview

Politics aside -- this is the first-ever Widespread Panic record that hasn't had numerous versions of tracks available on the Internet; the band kept it under wraps until release time -- this is the most ambitious and refined album the band has ever issued. Widespread Panic is the only band from the whole jam scene that emerged from the south and the oft-spouted Allman Brothers' font of inspiration who remains interesting. Over the course of eight studio albums and three live outings, Widespread Panic has mutated into a unit who can make harmonic -- and even hooky -- sense of virtually any scrap of a musical idea. Ball is a refinement of the ambition of Don't Tell the Band. While that record featured exercises in everything from blues to Latin and fusion, Ball centers itself on solid rock & roll of varying textures and approaches. What it means is that for the first time since their self-titled second album, the band has hunkered down and practiced the craft of tight, well-scripted, rock-conscious songwriting. What's more, with the aid of producer John Keane, they execute the fruits of their labor with aplomb, grace, and elegance. There's the pastoral backyard view into the world of "Counting Train Cars" with whining, shimmering pedal steel and a high, lonesome harmonica, with frontman John Bell offering the lyrics as if he's in the middle of them, not projecting them. This is the kind of song the Counting Crows wish they could write, and that R.E.M. tried -- and failed -- to do for literally decades. Think of the Band if they were really from the south and had Dickey Betts and Sneaky Pete Kleinow. In addition, there's the bluesy, southern-fried rock of "Papa Johnny Road," with slithering guitars and a funky bassline accented by popping, single-string fills from a clawhammer banjo; here one can hear a trace of the Allmans, especially in Bell's delivery and the behind-the-beat twinned guitars. Elsewhere, the Richard Thompson-influenced guitar stylings of George McConnell's acoustic create a taut line crossed with Bell's near-British folk-styled vocal; while McConnell can re-create the beautiful octave drones and double-string runs of Thompson, Bell's singing is purely American, though he's going for Nick Drake or even early John Martyn; it's a striking, simple, and beautifully wrought song. There are also knotty, multi-faceted tunes that the Panics are (in)famous for, like the wondrously psychedelic "Meeting of the Waters" or the balls-out rocker "Nebulous," which cuts to the chase with John Herman's organ driving the entire engine. The record closes on a pair of contrasting tunes: the jazzy, almost loungy "Time Waits," haunted by Herman's B3 floating through the guitars and rhythms, and the near-anthemic stoner road song "Travelin' Man." No, we're not talking about a cover of the Ricky Nelson song; this is pure hippie-dream theory: "Been feelin' alright, for a coupla days/Either in a fog, or a sunny haze." Ringing, jangling guitars buoy Bell as he states his intention to live without purpose or destination. The killer flatpicking solo by McConnell in the bridge makes Bell's strident electric rhythm guitar seem more open, wide into the panorama that is the emptiness of all dreamers, where everything is connected. It's a very fine, laid-back rocker that carries out Ball on an up-note. Despite the fact that this is Widespread's "tightest" and most glossy record, it doesn't divulge its secrets easily. It needs repeated listenings to take it all in, and once that happens, it becomes an indispensable addition to their catalog. (Hint: Don't yank it out of the CD player right away when that last track ends.) [The dual disc version of the album contains the 5.1 Surround Sound mix of the album on the DVD side as well as some additional ROM content.]

Product Details

Release Date: 11/02/2004
Label: Imports
UPC: 0676628459126
catalogNumber: 8459126
Rank: 114540

Tracks

Disc 1

  1. Fishing
  2. Thin Air (Smells Like Mizzizzippi)
  3. Tortured Artist
  4. Papa Johnny Road
  5. Sparks Fly
  6. Counting Train Cars
  7. Don't Wanna Lose You
  8. Longer Look
  9. Meeting of the Waters
  10. Nebulous
  11. Monstrosity
  12. Time Waits
  13. Travelin' Man

Disc 2

  1. Fishing
  2. Thin Air (Smells Like Mississippi)
  3. Tortured Artist
  4. Papa Johnny Road
  5. Sparks Fly
  6. Counting Train Cars
  7. Don't Wanna Lose You
  8. Longer Look
  9. Meeting of the Waters
  10. Nebulous
  11. Monstrosity
  12. Time Waits
  13. Travelin' Man

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Widespread Panic   Primary Artist
John Bell   Guitar,Vocals,Group Member
John Hermann   Keyboards,Vocals,Group Member
Todd Nance   Drums,Vocals,Group Member
Domingo Ortiz   Percussion,Group Member
Dave Schools   Bass,Vocals,Group Member
George McConnell   Guitar,Vocals,Group Member
Jannelle Guillot   Voiceover

Technical Credits

Widespread Panic   Composer,Producer
Michael Houser   Composer
John Keane   Producer,Engineer
Chris Haynes   Engineer
John Trickett   Executive Producer
Bob Michaels   Executive Producer
Jeff Dean   Executive Producer
Buck Williams   Management
Kristian Storli   Authoring
Kehni Davis   Quality Control
Danny Michael Hilley   Setup

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