Under The Table And Dreaming

Dave Matthews Band

RCA Records, 1994


REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


In music, as in life, making a good first impression can count for a lot. Here are 10 reasons to love this, the 1994 major-label debut of a little group you may have heard of -- the Dave Matthews Band.

1. The biting lyrics and irresistible-yet-exotic hooks of early singles "Ants Marching" and "What Would You Say."

2. The manic-depressive juxtaposition of "Best of What's Around" (a classic dose of "cup is half full" optimism) with "Rhyme & Reason" (dark, dangerous, obsessive).my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

3. The ecstatic musical friction between singer/guitarist Matthews' crooning voice and horn player Leroi Moore's swooning sax on the gorgeous, sublimely seductive "Lover Lay Down."

4. The diverse arrangements, spotlighting a seemingly endless variety of different instrumental "looks" song to song among the virtuoso ensemble of Matthews, Moore, Boyd Tinsley (violin), Stefan Lessard (bass) and Carter Beauford (drums).

5. The amazing dynamics -- almost prog-rock in the way they shift gears and mix styles -- of songs like "Jimi Thing," which moves rapidly from soaring melodies to driving funk to a shimmering sax solo.

6. The interpolating melody lines and superb sax fills of "Warehouse."

7. The sheer musical density of this album, featuring layer upon layer of melody and counter-melody.

8. The exquisite tension in the music, lyric and delivery of "Pay For What You Get."

9. Tension and release, tension and release… when this band is on, it's as sensual as any in rock.

10. Last but not least, Under The Table And Dreaming is simply the best job this band has ever done of merging its various musical personalities -- earthy jam band, eclectic virtuosos, hooky popmeisters, exorcists of the dark corners of Matthews' soul. In the hands of producer Steve Lillywhite, the music is intricate but focused. Unlike Before These Crowded Streets, there's no aimless wandering here; it's about the songs, not the players. But unlike Everyday, this is a band album, with the spotlight on the entire group's ability to play together with and off of one another in order to generate amazing soundscapes. This debut launched the DMB off toward the stratosphere, and it's no wonder; it's still the best thing they've ever done.

Rating: A

User Rating: A


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