With Über Cobra, their second of three live release from the November 2003 House of Blues run, Widespread Panic has laid down 12 acoustic tracks that really allow George McConnell to display his strength on guitar. In fact, this performance was one of the strongest McConnell has turned in since joining the band in 2002.

Mixing Panic staples like Neil Young's "Walk On," "Wonderin'," and "Can't Get High" with reworked bluegrass versions of "Imitation Leather Shoes" and "Mercy," Panic reveals themselves as a musical beast adapting to it's new lineup. Toss in a few rare nuggets like the instrumental "Party At Your Mama's House" and "Geraldine & the Honeybee," which hadn't seen the light of day since 1992, and this album becomes a must-have for any Panic fan. The addition of John Keene's pedal steel on "City of Dreams" and "Expiration Day" (as well as a few others) adds a certain eye-wetting emotion that fits perfectly with the set of music. While this CD will be warmly embraced by the SpreadHead contingent, it will also appeal to a broad range of music fans. The crisp, clean recording and acoustic format allow for easy digestion, and the band does their part with inspired playing.

Über Cobra is another step into the future for Widespread Panic. It lends confidence to the notion that the band still has greatness to achieve. The book is not closed and Panic is clearly looking forward, not back.

The Kayceman
JamBase | Head Quarters
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[Published on: 7/21/04]

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