Gabe Dixon Band - On a Rolling Ball

Gabe Dixon Band
On a Rolling Ball

(Reprise/Warner Bros.)

First Appeared at The Music Box, December 2002, Volume 9, #12

Written by John Metzger


One need not be a genius to figure out that keyboard player Gabe Dixon has talent. For starters, legendary former Beatle Paul McCartney took one listen and hired him to perform throughout his recent outing Driving Rain. Capitalizing on this unique opportunity, the Gabe Dixon Band released its first full-length studio album On a Rolling Ball, and the group appears to be on the verge of widespread popularity. Of course, it helps that the disc — which clocks in at a far too lengthy 65 minutes — cuts a wide swath through the annals of ’70s rock history, drawing upon a myriad of influences from the jazz-funk of Steely Dan and Stevie Wonder to ’70s singer/songwriter fare typical of Elton John and, naturally, Paul McCartney.

And those are just from initial impressions. Further listens reveal that even more is going on behind the scenes. The saxophone accompaniment on More Than It Would Seem recalls the classic jazz stylings of John Coltrane and Wayne Shorter. The jam that emerges in the center of Corner Café bears a striking resemblance to Phish. Everything’s Ok clouds the line that separates Bad Company and Ben Folds. And one gets the feeling that each of the tracks from On a Rolling Ball is greatly expanded to jam band proportions in a concert setting.

That’s not to say that On a Rolling Ball is the perfect debut. In fact, the problems with the album are two-fold. Despite the tremendous array of influences, many of the disc’s songs blur into a steady stream of sterility, and they all wind up sounding very much the same. Second, Dixon’s lyrics, while a step ahead of most of the jam band scene — they are, at least, about something — lack in both substance and poetic quality. Regardless, neither fully derails the Gabe Dixon Band’s debut, largely because the melodies the group concocts are, at worst, pleasingly pleasant and, at best, inherently infectious. starstarstar

On a Rolling Ball is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!


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