ProgressoR / Uzbekistan Progressive Rock Pages


Dreadnaught - 2005 - "Live at Mojo"

(115 min 2CD, Comet)


Prolusion. This double CD production, "Live at Mojo", is the fifth official outing by American band DREADNAUGHT. It was recorded live in the studio and presents special renditions of original compositions from all four of the band's other albums, and also several cover versions of songs by Frank Zappa, The Who and some other artists (details are below the track lists). The other Dreadnaught-related reviews on Progressor: "The American Standard" (2001), "Musica en Flagrante" (2004).

Disc I (62 min)


1.  Popeye 3:00 
2.  Tiny Machine 4:26
3.  Tombstone Every Mile 3:43
4.  The Jester's Theme 7:02
5.  Deneb 2:44 
6.  Tournament 2:48 
7.  I've Been Away 2:42
8.  Kames Thresher Industries 1:00
9.  Welding 4:30 
10. Red Light 4:48
11. Clownhead 5:18 
12. Dark Star 3:46
13. Bunnaschidt 6:57
14. Excitable Boy 2:41
15. Nag Champ-a-Laya 7:00 

All tracks: by Lord & Dreadnaught, except 3 (Fulkerson), 
7 (Entwistle), 12 (Grateful Dead) & 14 (Marinell/Zevon) 
Produced by Lord. Engineered by A Cimino


Bob Lord - bass; vocals
Justin Walton - guitar; vocals
Tim Haney - drums 

Analysis. I haven't heard the first two Dreadnaught albums, but I am very well acquainted with the second phase of their output. More than one third of the tracks on "Live at Mojo" (eleven) are renderings of those from the band's latest two releases, "The American Standard" and "Musica en Flagrante". Inasmuch as almost all of them are vastly, sometimes nearly radically, different from the originals, I believe it's the same with the other tracks. So I don't think it would be a fault if I approach to describing "Live at Mojo" as Dreadnaught's new material, without drawing parallels to their previous stuff. Besides, I am almost certain that such an attitude towards the album meets the band's personal vision of it. What their previous album lacked in aggressiveness and raw power is more than compensated for here. As this recording features neither guest musicians nor overdubs, the sound is quite typical for a Progressive Rock trio with no keyboards in the equipment, but is harsher than usual, due to the leading role that Bob Lord's solos on bass play here, the bass solos as such, which are often pronouncedly heavy being processed through the bass pedals, the powerful drumming of Tim Haney and, maybe, the fact that guitarist Justin Walton doesn't use a guitar synthesizer. Bob and Justin divide the lead duties between themselves, providing tortured, sustained solos, dissonant riffing work, and multi-layered interlocking patterns. They practically strangle every last drop of blood out of their instruments. The music is usually up-tempo and is quite intensive and dense nearly everywhere on the album, so I won't get back to this matter when describing the second disc. The contents of the first are made up of nine instrumental compositions and six songs. Three of the songs aren't from Dreadnaught's repertoire, but since these, as well as most of the others of such, sound similar to the band's compositions, I won't specify whether the tracks are their own works or their variations on those by other performers. Apart from the largely instrumental Bunnaschidt, which is excellent, all the songs here: Popeye, Tombstone Every Mile, I've Been Away, Red Light and Excitable Boy are vocal heavy and are pretty straightforward in general. The music is a traditional Hard Rock, slightly Prog-tinged at best, indicating that our heroes were influenced by Primus in their early creation and still take some liking to the sound of that band. Not my cup of tea. Thankfully, non-progressive tracks run only 17 minutes, while the disc's total time exceeds one hour. Quite the contrary, all the instrumental compositions, even the shortest of them such as Kames Thresher Industries, are filled to the limit with intricate musical events and are Dreadnaught at their best. Nevertheless, my favorite tracks here are the longest: The Jester's Theme and Nag Champ-a-Laya. The former is a genuine manual in how to mark a piece with striking contrast. It begins playfully, as a mixture of Blues and some old-fashion music, while the further arrangements are jamming and intense, with cutting improvisational guitar style. The strongest stylistic reference would probably be a bizarre combination of Avant-garde, Hard Rock, quasi Jazz-Fusion and Blues, though everything is possible here, and all is blended into a captivating whole, which is not particularly easy to define, as ever. In any event, this is highly progressive, truly arty music. I mean the instrumental compositions, of course.

Disc II (53 min)


1.  Gulf of Tonkin 1:08 
2.  The Boston Crab 2:18 
3.  The Drill 1:09
4.  Danny 4:27
5.  Rats & Me 4:39 
6.  Sophia Standalone 2:37 
7.  Peaches en Regalia 3:03
8.  Illinois Enema Bandit 1:29
9.  The Torture Never Stops 4:21
10. Ballbuster 4:23 
11. Whole Lotta Shaking 2:26
12. Women Are Kryptonite 3:11
13. I Am a Lonesome Fugitive 3:40
14. Clean Your Act Up Son 4:54
15. Derby Days 9:40 

All tracks: by Lord & Dreadnaught, except 
7, 8, 9 (Zappa), 11 (David/Williams) & 13 (Anderson) 
Produced by Lord. Engineered by A Cimino

LINEUP: same

Analysis. Disc 2 features almost the equal number of songs and instrumental pieces: seven and eight respectively. However, only two of the songs here are straightforward. These are the traditional Rock & Roll numbers: Whole Lotta Shaking and I Am a Lonesome Fugitive. The two shortest instrumentals, Gulf of Tonkin and The Drill, are much in the same vein, but although extremely short, they are more impressive. The quality of the rest material ranges from good to outstanding. Three more songs: Danny, Women Are Kryptonite and Clean Your Act Up Son combine a classy American Hard Rock (in the vocal-based parts) and the album's primary style (in the instrumental sections), while the remaining ones, Rats & Me and The Torture Never Stops, as well the other unnamed instrumentals, must be described with all the same terms and epithets I've used when talked of the first disc's highlights. I admire Dreadnaught's ability to pace their compositions. It always leaves you guessing. They have no trouble in finding a groove with heavy bass, which is counterbalanced by an asymmetrical drum attack in odd meter, often declining into grotesque eruptions of dissonance, and when the band finds that groove, it tends to be a lot more lively and unpredictable, keeping most of the songs on the second disc interesting throughout. Just as those on the first disc, the instrumental compositions are a labyrinthine journey through angular structures, filled with adventure at every turn. The highest points are Derby Days, which is very diverse musically, and the dauntingly frenetic Ballbuster, i.e. again, the longest in the bunch.

Conclusion. Dreadnught's highly positive tendency to constantly transform their style runs all through their previous creation and finds its continuation here, on their latest effort, too. I didn't say "logical continuation", though. Overall, I find "Live at Mojo" an excellent album, but not a masterwork. I realize that I like the original compositions better, so be it viewed as a set of renderings or the band's new material either, "Live at Mojo" is a bit less impressive than their previous two albums, though I believe it's much better than the first two. All in all, the set can be highly recommended, but with one reservation: some of the contents are non-progressive.

VM: May 1 & 2, 2005

Related Links:

Red Fez Records
Comet Records


ProgressoR / Uzbekistan Progressive Rock Pages