Picks and Pans Review: Road Dogs

UPDATED 08/07/2000 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 08/07/2000 at 01:00 AM EDT

The Charlie Daniels Band (Blue Hat)

With this package of chug-along, on-the-road songs full of self-indulgent solos, mush-mouthed vocals and tunes as long as a symphony, the Daniels Band can sound like a countrified version of the Grateful Dead. But this studio album also includes some terrific improvising by Daniels and Bruce Brown on guitar and Taz DiGregorio on keyboard. And Pat McDonald supplies vigorous drumming on the engaging instrumental marathon "Sidewinder."

Nobody is going to confuse these guys with poets. Daniels's tune "Wild Wild Young Men" celebrates those who "make a big point of acting like a fool/ Hanging out in the juke joints trying to be real cool." But if Daniels & Co. aren't getting more devoted to intellectual pursuits, they are getting more cohesive musically. Down-the-highway country music may be outmoded, but this album, happily, is not.

Bottom Line: Old dogs, new tricks

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