Live at Workplay
First Appeared in The Music Box, June 2006, Volume 13, #6
Written by Tracy M. Rogers
South Carolina natives the Blue Dogs exemplify many of the problems inherent in the country-rock genre today. As a middle of the road, not-quite-mainstream-yet-not-quite-alternative outfit, Blue Dogs — much like contemporaries Radney Foster, Cross Canadian Ragweed, and Pat Green — produces material that frequently lacks both musical breadth and lyrical depth. The band’s latest outing Live at Workplay serves as a perfect example. Recorded live in Birmingham, Alabama in January 2005, the album scatters only a handful of true gems amidst its mixture of throwaway songs and similar sounding country-rock fare. Tracks like the thoughtful Half of My Mistakes (which also appeared on co-writer Foster’s latest effort This World We Live In) and a superb cover of Lyle Lovett’s LA County are lost in the fray of seemingly identical chords and melodies. The opening Cosmic Cowboy contains few lyrics or innovations of note, while tunes like The Way Back and Bill Bill are downright silly. Isabelle is one of the few compelling love songs on the affair, but it is buried near the end of the set. Other selections simply fail to captivate. For example, I’m All about You and Your Sweet Love suffer from their cloying, saccharine lyrics, while Make Your Mama Proud is utterly clichéd. Blue Dogs’ cover of the traditional Children, Go Where I Send Thee is intriguing, but ultimately, it isn’t enough to save the endeavor from sinking into mediocrity. With lackluster lyrics and very few hooks, Live at Workplay is a rudimentary live effort that is deprived of distinguishing characteristics. ½
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2006 The Music Box