Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King

Studio Album by released in 2009

Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King review

Album with a classic-rock sound

The release of the seventh Dave Matthews Band’s studio album with the sophisticated name Big Whiskey & The GrooGrux King is marked with a sorrowful event. When the band was starting to record the album, in august 2008, one of the band’s members passed away – the crew’s saxophonist LeRoi Moore. He died at the age of 46 of injuries that he got in an accident. Moore was famous for his extreme taciturnity – throughout the whole period of the band’s existence, he practically did not say a word during the concerts and was pathological in not giving any interviews. However Matthews, who created the cover art for Big Whiskey & The GrooGrux King, knew another Moore – here he drew him as an enormous laughing head, leading the blissfully colourful festival parade. The new record was recorded on the RCA Records in New Orleans with the help of the producer Rob Cavallo. The atmosphere of the album is soaked with the sudden loss – the music imposes melancholy and the desire to sit in front of the fireplace, handing a glass of whiskey, pondering of life’s unexpected turns. Cavallo worked with Dave Matthews Band for the first time, and what he did was the introduction of the classic-rock sound, the job he did brilliantly with such bands as Green Day and My Chemical Romance.

Big Whiskey & The GrooGrux King is full of fatalism

The first track on the record is a memory tribute to LeRoi Moore. The composition Grux is the impressive sax solo that creates a really emotional, spicy and thorough atmosphere together with the percussion. Grux – shortened GrooGrux – is a nick-name given to Moore by the band’s members at some point during their brilliant 15 year long collaboration. The next composition Shake Me Like A Monkey is, by far, one of the most energetic and frantic on the album, with its sharpened lyrics and tireless drums. The leading single Funny The Way It Is is a more melancholy-flavored composition, despite the abundance of rhythm. It starts with the light guitar fingering that introduces Dave Matthews with his trademark vocals. The song tells of the life’s ups and downs and fits perfectly in the overall spirit of the record – the whole album, as well as all of the band’s works, is full of fatalism. Lying In the Hands Of God – tranquil and tamed – starts with the subdued singing and maybe represents one of the best tracks in which Matthews’ vocals reveal in all its complexity and individuality. The lyrics of the next composition Why I Am also pays a memory tribute to the deceased saxophonist and his buoyant power – the energy of the song is supported by the guitar riffs and loud captivating percussion. One of the most interesting tracks of the album is Alligator Pie, where banjo and violin can be heard. If listened carefully, its lyrics reveal the main intention of the track – it is undoubtedly a prayer for New Orleans that still cannot recover after the Katrina, even though it happened almost 4 years ago. The final tracks of the record, Baby Blue and You & Me, are slow-paced and tremendous. They state again how much more of a potential there still is and how many more of the unwritten masterpieces are still in store for us. At the end, You & Me closes the album with the airy and soaring sax solo, that was the beginning and that is the end.

The best Dave Matthews Band’s album

One cannot disagree with many eminent critics in terms of Big Whiskey & The GrooGrux King being the best Dave Matthews Band’s album. Though it is impossible to underestimate all the previous band’s works, that were full of life and rhythm, the last album really shows what the musicians are really able of. This is one of the most powerful, solid and mature album. Immediately after the release the album reached the first position on the Billboard 200 and during the first week 424 thousand copies were sold. Probably one of the main reasons why the new record is such a success is the fact that it raises the humanity’s fundamental questions – life and death, love and destruction. Besides, it transmits them through music, which is one of the album’s main leitmotivs. No wonder that the 15 years of the band’s existence have brought them such an immense popularity in the United States and abroad. And though Big Whiskey & The GrooGrux King is more heavy and not as light, airy and playful as the previous Dave Matthews Band’s albums, it is not devoid of that attraction and unusualness that wins the hearts of its constantly growing fan base.