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Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King (Deluxe Edition)

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Album Review

Tragedy has a way of putting everything into perspective, a truism that's brought into sharp relief by the Dave Matthews Band. LeRoi Moore, the group's saxophonist, died in an ATV accident in 2008, something that shook the DMB to their core and they've responded as any working band does: by carrying on, playing gigs — including one on the day of his passing — and finishing the album they were recording at the time of his death, turning Big Whiskey & the GrooGrux King into a tribute to their fallen comrade. By saluting his spirit, DMB wind up returning to their roots, jettisoning any of the well-manicured crossover pop of Stand Up and reviving the loose-limbed jams that were their '90s specialty, a sound they've largely abandoned — at least on record — since 1998's Before These Crowded Streets. During that long, long decade between Before and Big Whiskey, DMB remained one of America's biggest bands even though much of those ten years found Matthews working through various existential crises — things got too big so he pulled away from the band, turned out a dark solo record, then came back — and his namesake band drifted along with him. Here, everything snaps back into focus: what was glossy is now clean and unvarnished; there is no avoidance of their rangy, loping rhythms or predilection for elastic solos; and these signatures — shunned on record, not on-stage — are embraced warmly, given muscle, and married to the dark undercurrents that have flowed throughout Matthews' new-millennium writing. Surely, Moore's early death weighs heavily here — he is the GrooGrux King of the album's title and there are many allusions to him in lyrics — but Matthews also ties in references to Hurricane Katrina and war, all as part of his wide-open meditations on mortality and morality. Not all of Big Whiskey is about death: there is an equal amount of love tunes, plus one of Matthews' casually vulgar sox songs, all celebrating enduring relationships, providing a counterpoint to the waves of melancholy. But what makes Big Whiskey & the GrooGrux King the Dave Matthews Band's richest, and quite possibly best, album is the implicit message that all the love and loss can be felt and shared through the music, that the creation of the music itself is the reason why they're here — and that's not just a moving tribute to LeRoi Moore, it's a reason for the band to keep moving on. [This edition includes a bonus DVD featuring a documentary entitled Scenes from Big Whiskey.]

Customer Reviews

DMB is back.

I have to say that I have been a fair-weather friend to DMB the past few years; not really enjoying the recent albums. I would spend most of my time listening to Under The Table and Dreaming, and Before These Crowded Streets. I really could not stand the "pop" type production. However, Big Whisky is outstanding. It was rather emotional for me really. Leroi Moore will be missed, but I am glad they decided to keep on at it. Their terrible loss did seem to reel them back into what made them an outstanding group of musicians.

As good as ever!

This Album has to be the best so far. Love the LP u guys are great. R.I.P Leroi Moore!

A return to form for Dave Matthews Band

As much a new release as it is a tribute to late saxophonist LeRoi Moore - the GrooGrux King himself, 'Big Whiskey & the GrooGrux King' is a return to the roots of the classic Dave Matthews Band style.

'Shake Me Like A Monkey,' 'Why I Am,' and 'Alligator Pie' feature the band at their best. Each musician plays with a sort of reckless abandonment and you can just sense the fun they're having - punctuated by a very vocal, "Yeah!," at the end of '...Monkey,' for those listening closely. The radio-friendly 'Funny The Way It Is' and 'You & Me' will attract the casual fan while the aggressiveness of 'Time Bomb' will certainly resonate with long-time devotees, invoking an almost 'Halloween' type resonance.

The Deluxe Edition also features a bonus EP entitled, 'Little Red Bird,' featuring 5 new tracks as well as the touching documentary, 'Scenes From Big Whiskey,' which covers the genesis of this album, the stunning loss of their bandmate, and the coming together to finish what they started.

This album is a must have for any casual fan as well as those who felt DMB had drifted away from what made them accessible in the late 1990's/early 2000's. The Deluxe Edition is a smart pick up for the die hard follower as well.


Formed: 1991 in Charlottesville, VA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Formed in the early '90s by South African vocalist/guitarist Dave Matthews, the Dave Matthews Band presented a more pop-oriented version of the Grateful Dead crossed with elements of jazz, funk, and the worldbeat explorations of Paul Simon and Sting. Matthews populated the group with several Virginia-based musicians -- bassist Stefan Lessard, saxophonist Leroi Moore, violinist Boyd Tinsley, drummer Carter Beauford, and short-lived keyboardist Peter Griesar -- and the band built up a strong word-of-mouth...
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Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King (Deluxe Edition), Dave Matthews Band
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