The Dixie Dregs were an American rock, country, and southern band active in the 1970s and 1980s. They played a fusion of progressive rock and jazz-fusion styles. The band was formed in Lynchburg, Virginia, the USA by Steve Morse (guitars), Andy West (bass), Allen Sloan (violin), and Bart Yarnal (drums) in the mid-1970s. They released a self-titled debut album followed by “Free Fall,” Then, with Steve Davidowski on keyboards instead of Sloan, they recorded “Unsung Heroes.” In 1979 the Dixie Dregs released one of their best albums, “Night Of The Living Dregs.” Davidowski left shortly after to form his band, Kansas. Andy West also left, forming the progressive rock band Alias with vocalist Jim Pettit and guitarist Don Schiff. He was replaced by Mark Parrish (bass). The 1980s saw the Dixie Dregs undergo several personnel changes. In 1980, The Dregs released “Down The Tubes,” their first album with former Chicken Wire Gene Miller on bass and keyboardist Steve Davidowski rejoining the band. Allen Sloan had left and was replaced by John Slick (keyboards) by this time. At this time, they also recorded their first live album, the excellent “Night of the Living Dregs (re-issue).” Mark Parrish left and was replaced by Andy West, playing with Alias. The loose connection continued until today. They reunite shortly for their tours and rarely work together after that. But even though they aren’t the legendary band most of their fans know, their original songs still keep making them more famous. Here are their 10 best songs of all time.
10. The Bash (1979)
‘The Bash’ isn’t just any other rock song; it’s a masterpiece put together by a band at the peak of its ability. The live version is no exception either. Starting with Morse’s frenetic guitar work, the song picks up momentum as it twists and turns through each verse. The Dregs brought a freshness to every track they played, which was no exception. It’s not often that you can find a band with the depth and ability to play in an improvisational style while still retaining its identity.
9. Punk Sandwich (1978)
‘Punk Sandwich’ is a studio version of the Dregs live standard, without gaps between songs. Although it’s not as explosively fast as some of their other work, it still retains the catchy melodies and technical proficiency that make this band great. It’s a great track to listen to when you’re in the mood for classical rock, and it has all the elements that make this band superb.
8. Night Meets Light (1978)
‘Night Meets Light’ is a song from what many consider their best album, ‘What If.’ Andy West’s captivating vocals and brilliant lyrics carry this track along. Morse’s blistering guitar work on the track is a prime example of his ability to play melodies, not just riffs; the solos are more like an interlude than a solo. ‘Night Meets Light’ contains some of the best moments on any Dixie Dregs album and one of the best moments in classical rock.
7. Night Of The Living Dreg (1979)
‘Night of the Living Dregs’ is a live album containing two complete concerts from different venues on the same tour. Side A is at Lee Furr’s club in Arizona, and side B is at Loyola University in New Orleans. It’s considered one of their best live albums and is chock full of classic Dregs songs. The musicianship is out of this world, but the improvisational ability makes this album great.
6. Travel Tunes (1978)
‘Travel Tunes’ opens with the sounds of the jungle, then Morse’s guitar work kicks in with a melody that makes you want to get up and dance. ‘Travel Tunes’ is pure Dixie Dregs, full of catchy melodies and complex arrangements, but this track stands out above all the rest. ‘Travel Tunes’ was originally intended for an unfinished album they never released, but its quality proves that they should’ve put it on their actual records.
5. Ice Cakes (1976)
‘Ice Cakes,’ the first track on the Dixie Dregs’ debut album and one of their most popular tracks, opens up with a funky bassline and Morse playing a cool guitar riff. The intro gives way to one of the best guitar solos ever laid to wax. ‘Ice Cakes’ has everything this band can, and it’s a must-have for any fan. Morse also uses his guitar synthesizer on the track, which was still rare in 1976.
4. Moe down (1977)
‘Moe Down’ is one of the Dregs’ best live tracks, hands down. Taking a rock classic and adding their signature sound made this song incredible. It’s the Dregs’ take on the Allman Brothers Band, and it’s one of their best live tracks for that reason. Morse brings his guitar synthesizer into play yet again, plus another break where Bridenthal and Payne shine as cohesive musicians who play as one unit.
3. Country House Shuffle (1976)
‘Country House Shuffle’ features some of the band’s best guitar work and more excellent drumming by Kendall. This track is pure Dixie Dregs, and it’s a must-have for any fan of this incredible band. The technical proficiency on this track is unparalleled by any other band. ‘Country House Shuffle’ also contains an excellent solo break with some smoking guitar work, plus Morse’s first use of his guitar synthesizer.
2. Free Fall (1977)
‘Free Fall,’ the title track from their best album, opens up with Morse playing a funky guitar riff with the bass and drums laying the foundation. The almost 6-minute track takes you on a musical journey, while Kendall’s drumming is at its best here, especially in the solo break. This song is pure perfection from this brilliant band, and it’s a must-have for any fan of progressive rock or classical rock.
1. Take It Off The Top (1978)
The opening track on their best album opens up with a heavy riff and Morse playing a killer melody line at the same time, with the bass and drums laying the foundation. This song is pure perfection from this brilliant band, and it’s a must-have for any fan of progressive rock or classical rock. The musicianship is out of this world, but the improvisational ability makes this song great. It features an unbelievable amount of back-and-forth exchanges between Morse and Hinds throughout the entire track.
The Dixie Dregs is one of many rock fans’ favorite bands of all time, and their three studio albums plus ‘Night of the Living Dregs’ are pure brilliance. Their live albums are incredible, and anyone who is a fan in any way should check them out.