The Big Wu
Tracking Buffalo through the Bathtub
First Appeared at The Music Box, May 2000, Volume 7, #5
Written by John Metzger
The Big Wu is just the latest band to take a stab at imitating the ready-made Phish formula. Throughout its latest album Tracking Buffalo through the Bathtub, The Big Wu wander through a maze of prog-rock melodies with the requisite splattering of reggae, funk, and country vibes. Its lyrics, too, do little to move beyond the earliest ditties penned by the Phish-family, which at their best lie in a similar goofy vein, and at their worst read like overblown love songs.
Thatís not to say The Big Wu doesn't create some of the most jubilant music on the jam band circuit. However, the group does it by borrowing heavily from the joyous songs of years past. The Grateful Deadís rendition of Hey Pocky Way is resurrected in The Big Wuís Midnight Rudy; the Allman Brothers Bandís Blue Sky is reborn as the chorus to Kangaroo; and Phishís Runaway Jim and Down with Disease are mutated into Bloodhound and Gimme a Raise, respectively.
That said, The Big Wu does display a solid sense of musicianship, particularly on the acoustic-flavored Bloodhound and the extended workout Red Sky. The subtle underscoring of banjo pitted against acoustic guitar on the former and the Jerry Garcia-fueled leads on the latter clearly demonstrate that the group's members know how to play their instruments. Itís just unfortunate that The Big Wu has yet to create a sound that is fresh and new. Despite this, Tracking Buffalo through the Bathtub is sure to please groove rock fans simply seeking a happy space in which to dance.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2000 The Music Box