Widespread Panic: Choice Cuts

By: Phil Santala

There is something to be said for a band that waits almost 20 years and 16 albums to release a "Best of" compilation. That band is Widespread Panic, the album is Choice Cuts - The Capricorn Years.

All the songs on this anthology are taken from Space Wrangler (1988, re-released by Capricorn in 1992) through Till The Medicine Takes (1999). While Choice Cuts features a wide variety of Widespread's signature sounds it also suffers from some of the classic "Best of" pitfalls. Sometimes it's hard to figure out why Panic, who hand selected the tracks, chose some tracks and not others. Noticeably absent is showstopper "Postcard" from Everyday and the workhorse, every fourth show favorite "Space Wrangler."

That said, it is an excellent retrospective. Listening to album tracks many of us haven't dug out in years reminds us just how far this band has come. The growth of lead singer John Bell's harmonic range is simply astounding, something plainly evident on the first track here, J.J. Cale's "Travelin' Light," now almost 20 years old. And while one can complain about song selection most of these songs have been played an average of 417 times live. The compilation also does a sterling job of representing Widespread's successful collaborative spirit. Besides J.J Cale, songs by Vic Chesnutt, and Jerry Joseph are included on this release.

It is not just the songs that represent Widespread Panic so well here, it's the personal letter from JB in the liner notes, where he refers to his bandmates as "the boys." The letter is short, sweet and provides a fond look back, offering interesting insights into Panic for the rest of us. For those of us looking to get a little deeper under our second skin, this album is worth taking a longer look at.

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[Published on: 11/8/07]

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Comments

Rickymullet star Fri 11/9/2007 03:26AM
Show -14 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} starstarstar Fri 11/9/2007 03:38AM
+10 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›      {¬¿¬}

your life revolves around hatred of one band.

don't you get bored?

Atlien Fri 11/9/2007 08:12AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

As a drummer, I've never been able to get over the fact that Todd One-Drum-Fill" Nance may be the most unimaginative drummer in music today. It's like his skills were froze in time from when he first started playing. Thank god they have Ortiz! I still love the band, just wish they'd give Sipe a call so they can finally take their music to the next level where it belongs.

Atlien Fri 11/9/2007 08:12AM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

As a drummer, I've never been able to get over the fact that Todd "One-Drum-Fill" Nance may be the most unimaginative drummer in music today. It's like his skills were froze in time from when he first started playing. Thank god they have Ortiz! I still love the band, just wish they'd give Sipe a call so they can finally take their music to the next level where it belongs.

kyjed48 Fri 11/9/2007 10:26AM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

The more I'm on this site, the more I hatred I hear from it's readers. I like WP, but probably won't buy this album, because it's just not a great selection of tunes. But, why do you people insist on attacking everything and everybody on this site? I'm staying with the MMJ forum. Those guys are much more tolerant and just plain human. Take that anger out on something that might actually make a difference. Find a real cause. You all just look pathetic.

moejoerisin Fri 11/9/2007 01:49PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

moejoerisin

kyjed: you seem to have the most angry post on this thread. just an observation.

twain Fri 11/9/2007 02:09PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

love panic, but do agree w/ nance comment and yes, thank god for sunny! jimmy red herring is the bezzzomb.

DJ Saturday Baxter Fri 11/9/2007 04:43PM
Show -3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
kyjed48 Fri 11/9/2007 08:31PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I'm not joining in on the attacks that are prevalent on this site. I was just making an observation of my own.

Rickymullet starstarstarstarstar Sat 11/10/2007 05:51AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Rickymullet

Dear Milesgone, I don't hate anything and I will never get bored of making fun of the wsp. When jam_on stops playing them, I may stop with these silly posts. Don't take it too seriously. :b

skinny2 starstarstarstarstar Sat 11/10/2007 11:45AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

yea to all the haters out there if this band sucks so bad how have they continued to play for over 20 years, keep on rolling wsp and screw all these ppl that wish they had a band that can keep rollin after twenty years and over 2000 shows and still selling out shows what kinda stats does your band have compared to that. exactly my point

DJ Saturday Baxter Sat 11/10/2007 01:37PM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

DJ Saturday Baxter

stats or no stats...in my opinion they still blow.

skinny2 Sun 11/11/2007 09:12PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

um stats help back your opinon and you have none and u can have ur crappy opinon bc we dont care our band is still playing and still selling out venues so we'll just keep going to our shows and u can just talk shit bc u dont have any to go to, ill tell u what blows is djs bc they dont even make there own music half of the time just take other ppls work and mix it, thats real original

RothburyWithCheese star Tue 11/13/2007 03:33PM
Show -4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
RothburyWithCheese star Tue 11/13/2007 03:33PM
Show -3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
DJ Saturday Baxter Thu 11/15/2007 04:29PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

DJ Saturday Baxter

skinny2....hey..if you like none grooving music then WSP is for you. IF music grooves i tend to like it. When i listen to music I compare it to other things i have listened to...then i determine what i think are its influences and what style of music they are. I have a deep historical perspective on music. I belive i have a very good understanding of improvisational music...starting with JAZZ...weather report, All of Mile's stuff (bitches brew), All herbie's stuff, JACO, Chick Correa, Deodato... starting the late 60's up till now, including: latin jazz, funk, groove, RNB and everything to that grooves. So...when i say WSP blows...its my opinion... based on music i have already listened. I listen to each member of the band... and i cant say that any of them really kick it.

facelessspirit starstarstarstarstar Fri 11/16/2007 10:30AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

DJ Saturday Baxter..

Isn't "groove" a pretty subjective statment. Sure widespread panic sounds nothing like Miles Davis, or Herbie Handcock, or DJ Logic. (althought the last two have maganged to play on stage with them, despite this) I think that while you may not like them, to which you are of course entitled to feel, comparing completely different musical stlyes is a little bit of a grey area. If you want to rip on panic, which it seems you do, prehaos you would be better off comparing them to blues bands, to southern rock groups. WSP has a lot more in common with say, JJ Cale (ever listen to him? he definitly does not "groove" according to you) or Bill Withers then they do with any of the artists you listed. Galatic, KDTU, STS9 all sound nothing like Panic, that dosn't mean they suck, or that panic sucks. After all, apples taste nothing like oranges, does that mean apples are good and oranges suck?

I give the album a 3.5, and the story a 5.

DJ Saturday Baxter Fri 11/16/2007 12:10PM
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DJ Saturday Baxter

true... i hear what you are saying. I am not into blues, rock...and jamrock stuff. But...when i listen to music i cant help but compare what i am listening to, to what i consider to be the most talented and groovin bands. I guess i am just venting after i just saw them in Jacksonville... and i thought it absolutely sucked. SO many people were saying to me that they thought WSP was the sickest band ever... it just got to me. Because if you look at what each individual band member is doing... to me it just is kinda weak. FOr example...the drummer: just straight forward basic stuff that becomes annoying. Percussion: crash symbols all over the place....becomes annoying. BASS: there were no real memoriable bass lines...they all kinda sounded the same. Guitar: just shredding on top of everyone..not really dipping into the groove. Keys: cheessy sounding electric keyboard..there was one song for about 3-4 min that was cool. Singing: not audible. Over all not. melodic I am done commenting on WSP.