Dave Matthews' Tapes of Wrath:
A Guide to the Lillywhite Sessions
"While not a realized album in itself, The Lillywhite Sessions
sheds light on Everyday’s confounding gloss. Reeking with Biblical images of death and frustration, the tracks range
from the well-done “Bartender”
to the warmed over “Monkey Man”.
Sessions would have disappointed if released as is. But as
bootlegs go, it’s a fascinating look at the creative process
of one of the country’s biggest bands".
-- C. Bottomley, VH1
“Busted Stuff”: Matthews sings away a case of bad love in a sexy
Curtis Mayfield falsetto that appears again on other songs. The
electric guitar riffs that crowd Everyday interrupt the gentle swing.
“Grey Street”: An upbeat groove powers this song about a woman
who discovers that faith can’t get her out of an abusive relationship,
but the track is too long at six minutes. Matthews offers comfort
where God fails.
“Diggin’ a Ditch” Definitely refers to Matthews’ songwriting woes,
lamenting: “Unplug the TV/ Turn off the phone/ Get heavy on with
digging your ditch.” The fine arrangement highlights Leroi Moore’s
“Sweet Up and Down” An obvious contender for inclusion on any of
DMB’s past albums, it’s a broad statement whose infectious swagger
gives way to a fine Boyd Tinsley violin solo. “I believe in love” would
get arenas singing along, but Dave warns, “But think nothing about
it when you're not around.”
“JTR” Matthews claims his drinking during the sessions inspired this
overworked jive. The coda, bursting with stop-start dynamics and
instrumental outbursts, just steers clear of self-parody.
“Big Eyed Fish” In three vignettes, Matthews cautions against
suicidal ambition, but the narrator himself seems bummed at life’s
prospects and the acoustic tune keeps promising to burst into
“Grace is Gone” One of the most fascinating of the discarded tracks,
a drunken Dave ruminates on a lover who may have run away or
died in his arms. The live-and-let-live philosophy of earlier albums
hits a dead end, but the band set it to a sweet ballad that highlights
Beauford’s percussion. Worth keeping.
“Captain” Another sketch where Matthews takes stock of his
situation, and seems ready to resign from captaining both his life and
his band. Images of cancer continue mordant theme of early death.
“Bartender” The album’s centerpiece, this extraordinary ten-minute
epic is kin to “Grace is Gone,” and like “Grey Street” duels with both
secular and religious faith. With the DMB at full tilt, Matthews
considers success and faces up to his Epicureanism, noting that at
last “the wine is drinking me.”
“Monkey Man” The titular character sounds like an A&R type, but the
song ends with Dave watching the world drown as ice caps melt
away. Who knew the apocalypse would sound like the Doobie
“Kit Kat Jam” Like “Sweet Up and Down,” a straightforward rave-up
that the band never quite picked apart. Moore and Tinsley in
particular sound more like dressing than salad.
“Raven” The despondent opening couplet - “Rise and graze on this/
The future is a mess” - has been taken as Matthews’ epitaph for the
Lillywhite sessions. The free association lyrics and melody indicate
that matters never even reached that definite a conclusion.
BACK TO LILLYWHITE MAIN PAGE