Dave Matthews Band Album Review: Big Whiskey and the Groogrux King (2009)

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the seventh studio album from the Dave Matthews Band.

In green is my opinion. I am a big DMB fan. This is the album that introduced me to the group.

In blue is my cousin Robert’s opinion. He has been listening to DMB for years as well.

In purple is MJ from Screaming Dandelions, a good friend of mine. As of this post’s publication, the extent of her exposure to DMB is their album Away from the World.

Let’s start our track-by-track review!

Grux

We begin Big Whiskey with a saxophone piece paired with experimental drumming. Though this song only totals 1:13, it holds a lot of weight. Grux is a piece of music LeRoi Moore recorded before he died in 2008. With a nice sound and calming yet jazzy vibe, Grux is a great way to pay homage to the beloved sax player and to open up the album.

This song is all about DMB’s late saxophonist, LeRoi Moore. This song is some of the best saxophone playing you will ever hear. May LeRoi rest in peace.

Because Grux is only instrumental, this song didn’t really catch my attention. It’s short and strictly jazzy, which definitely doesn’t appeal to my taste of music. But I think it was right and appropriate to include a piece from the deceased saxophonist.

Shake Me Like a Monkey

This song is sassy and funky. Dave has a way of worshiping women and putting them up on a pedestal in a way that is surreal. Shake Me Like a Monkey is a train that keeps on moving, fueled by the blaring horns and aided by Dave’s obsessive lyrics. This song is like candy.

Shake Me Like a Monkey is a song that has more energy than Red Bull! Every time I hear this song I want to get up and dance! The way the music is orchestrated in this song is just amazing, and Dave’s vocals just make you want to shake and jump around. This is a great song to play on a road trip or a day at the beach.

Shake Me Like a Monkey definitely caught my attention. The amount of rock and slight hints of jazz provided the perfect sound. The song was outgoing and inviting, with slower sections that also served to my appeal. I would definitely give this one a thumbs up. If this was the first song I heard from DMB, I would look further into the band.

Funny The Way It Is

Though the lyrics are simple, Funny the Way It Is has a very thoughtful message. Dave takes a look at the irony of the world and it brings to light a message that isn’t often delivered. Inquisitive, is what this song is. Funny the Way It Is is bright, light, and a great song. Funny the way it is how people consider Kanye West and Rihanna talented when real musicians are making music like this.

This song is my favorite on the album, as it has a great meaning behind it. I love the guitar in the song as well as Dave’s vocals. He seems very chipper when he sings, and the entire song has that bright feel to it. If you need a song to cheer you up or make your day better, listen to this song because it can make anyone feel happy about life.

I think Funny the Way It Is is more of a laid back song, but with a bit of a kick. In the beginning it reminded me a little bit of Train, but as the song progressed, it shifted gears and added sharper chords. I would consider looking further into this band if this was the first song I heard. This was a tangent from what I listen to, but I enjoyed it.

Lying in the Hands of God

Lying in the Hands of God. Those are deep words. This song is one you could fall asleep to with ease, and that is a very good thing. It’s hypnotic, to say the least. Dave’s voice is very relaxed, and paired with the band’s interesting approach to the music, it’s a memorable song. The sax and guitar work with the drums to create a beautiful instrumental. It reminds me of the Dreaming Tree at times, as that is another song I can fall asleep to, and they share similar sounds.

Lying in the Hands of God is another Track 4 I have fallen in love with. It is a slow song that sounds pretty dang good. This entire song is mellow and easy to lay back to. Anyone can fall in love with this song. This is definitely the “soothe your soul” song of this album. I can also fall asleep to this song, just as I can with Sweet from Away From the World.

Lying in the Hands of God is definitely really laid back compared to what I normally listen to, but I actually like it. The instruments work together to make a really smooth flow, and the vocals and lyrics create the perfect combination.

Why I Am

This song is a tribute to LeRoi, the Groogrux King. The guitar riff, while it is the basis of the song, is repetitive at times, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that the lyrics are meaningful. It’s a very honest song that has an athem-esque sound to it.

Why I Am starts off with a riff you will never forget. This song is fun to jam along to and is great to play when you are with a group of friends or family. The band as a whole gives us another song filled with energy, as well as a cool solo courtesy of Tim Reynolds. 

This song definitely has that 80’s sound to it. I caught onto that in the first second of the song, which really grabbed my attention. Though I am not particularly fond of the background jazz instruments, the song is a hit. The overall concept is good, and that is something a lot of singers don’t express like this band did. A definite thumbs-up.

Dive In

I love this song. The chorus is dreamy and happy. Dive In is calming and soothing, both due to the passionate lyrics and uplifting music. Just envision endless hours spent on a beach somewhere. That’s Dive In. 

Dive In has a great piano intro followed by Dave’s sweet voice. It’s another slow song on this album that sounds great. The drums are amazing, as well as the bass. Songs like this one always make me wish we can live our lives every day without any worries or work, but as we all know, we have to work for what we want. Either way, this song is a great reminder of how rare paradise is. The guitar solo gives this song a nice touch too!

This song has a mellow reggae sound to it right from the very beginning of the song. Personally, I didn’t really find anything I caught on to that would get me to look into the band. It was a little too laid back for my taste. It wouldn’t encourage me to look deeper into the band if it were the first song I had heard from them.

Spaceman

Sexiness, is what this song is. The saxophone is sexy, the lyrics are sexy, even the banjo plucking is sexy. Banjo plucking is NEVER sexy. The chorus of this song is catchy as well, adding to the entrancing music that is Spaceman. Doesn’t everyone deserve the good life?

This song is just pure sexy! Though I have never been in a relationship, this song is a good fit for people who love to live life in the fast lane. This song reminds me of Led Zeppelin since most Zeppelin songs are about sex in some way. This song also reminds you to enjoy life with some good friends and to have fun once in a while.

Spaceman surprised me in that I was expecting it to be extremely laid back, but it had a good compromise of a mellow sound tied in with it. I also enjoyed the lyrics and how more instruments were added in throughout the duration of the song. There is a somewhat uncoordinated sound within the instruments, but it only goes to compliment the vocals. If this were the first song I heard from this band, I would definitely look into it more.

Squirm

I love it when Dave Matthews returns to the Middle Eastern style that comes from his South African origins. This song is sinister, challenging, and mysterious. When Dave starts singing with the guitar, you know it’s going to be a great song. Boyd kills it on this song, making it a cinematic kind of experience. Many wanted Squirm to be featured in a Bond movie, actually. That’s how you know a song is slick.

Squirm is sort of a dark song that shows how Dave can change his sound and make it work every time. The violin in this song is amazing and so is the tempo. This song has become one of my favorites, as it reminds me of Before These Crowded Streets. I wish more DMB songs have awesome violin-based songs like this one. This is Boyd at his finest!

I actually liked the beginning of Squirm, specifically the vocals. The electric guitar really tied it all together. In general, this song is a bit gutsier, per say. The hints of violin scattered around were the perfect addition to really complete the overall feeling of suspicion in the song. I really did enjoy this song and I wouldn’t second guess checking the band out if this was the first song I heard, hands down.

Alligator Pie

I never liked pie. Then I had some Alligator Pie. I like pie now. This song has a country sound to it, as if it was fresh out of South Carolina, red as can be. It’s loud, heavy, and full of banjo. This song was Dave’s excuse to lose it in the studio. Though a bit loud and repetitive towards the end, Alligator Pie is all bite and more bark.

I have had Gator Jerky but not pie. I’d bet it tastes good. Anyway, this song has a nice guitar intro with other instruments pitching in. Dave shows off his raspy side in this song, and man it sounds good. Alligator Pie makes you want to jump around. I am really impressed with Dave’s voice in this song and how he can change his pitch at anytime.

Alligator Pie caught my attention, mainly because of the name. In terms of the music, I liked that it wasn’t slow. The acoustic and electric guitar blend really nicely, and the drums are the cherry on top. The vocals have the perfect attitude for the song. Overall, it was put together well and I would look into the band further if this were my first time listening to them.

Seven

Catchy! The chorus is catchy! Seven, while great, is weaker lyrically than the majority of the songs on the album. Nonetheless, this song is a fun one.

Seven begins like a classic rock song, and then an interesting vocal sound from Dave emerges. The rest of the song has that classic rock feel which I really enjoy, as I was raised by a dad who grew up with bands like Led Zeppelin. I really love this song, and it shows how diverse the band can be with their music.

I loved the introduction of Seven. That’s what really got my attention. The vocals are unique to the song, making it even more likable. I liked the lyrics, and the instruments are close to perfect in collaborating with each other. I especially enjoyed the sections of piano too. And, above all, the electric guitar solos had me sold. If this was the first song I heard from DMB, I would definitely look into them.

Time Bomb

This song is a time bomb. The lyrics are haunting and chilling, and Dave’s explosion at the end is amazing. I love the music as well, mainly because it has a very Middle Eastern sound. Many may not realize the darkness of the song until they understand the lyrics. Time Bomb is great (by the way, listen for the RELAX at the very beginning of the song).

Tick Tok Tick Tok, Time Bomb is the definitive DMB song, and it is a fan favorite for a reason. The song starts off slow and then picks up and becomes a hell of a song. Every part and sound of this song is great, and every chorus gets louder and heavier, leading to an ending that is loud like an atomic bomb. If you want to get people moving and jumping around then this song is all you need! Oh and remember, you want to believe in Jesus.

The beginning of this song killed it for me, and not in a good way. I expected drums and electric guitars, but instead I got jazz. Extremely disappointing, in my opinion. Throughout the song, the tempo increased and it got a lot better, but I would have moved onto something else within the first 15 seconds if I were previewing this song.

Baby Blue

I’m all for a great slow song, but I wasn’t behind the tune for Baby Blue. The violin compliments the guitar and Dave’s voice well, but it’s not a song that I come back to. Baby Blue was the low point of this album for me, unfortunately.

Blue is my favorite color, and this song is sad. If you have ever lost a close loved one in your life then you can relate to this song. I love how we get a deep, sad song here, and it will always remind us that our loved ones may not be here, but they are not forgotten and always in our hearts. We will reunite with them someday up above! This is a beautifully written song, and Dave wants us to understand the song’s meaning and relate to it.

Although I prefer more upbeat music, I actually really enjoyed Baby Blue. I loved the sound of the vocals and the lyrics as well. The acoustics really caught my attention and just gave a mellow feeling, which, mixed with the shallow gruffness of the vocals, makes a perfect combination.

You and Me

This song is a fantasy of dropping everything and leaving with the person you love. You and Me is a step up from Baby Blue for sure. The song is sweet and relaxing, hopeful rather than sad. This shows how Dave can write about love as it is in movies, not just obsessive love. Tim Reynolds cools it on the guitar, not overpowering the lyrics. Boyd’s violin sounds great, by the way.

Once again, even though I have never been in a relationship, I can tell this song is for a couple in a relationship. It is a fun acoustic song that says to have fun with each other and enjoy good times. It tells us how life is limitless and we should enjoy every day of it with someone we love.

The thing I liked most about You and Me was the story in the lyrics. The acoustics were smooth and the vocals were the perfect fit for the lyrics. This song kind of reminded me of Train in the sound and story. This song puts me in a difficult position in that I don’t completely enjoy the instrumental, but I’m a sucker for a story. Overall, I did enjoy this song, but I don’t know if it would draw me to look into the band.

My Top 3

Lying in the Hands of God

Squirm

Time Bomb

Rob’s Top 3

Baby Blue

Shake Me Like A Monkey 

Funny the Way it Is 

MJ’s Top 3

Baby Blue

Squirm 

Spaceman

This is the album that hooked me to DMB. I honestly enjoy every song on it. Baby Blue is slowly growing on me, as the lyrics are starting to sink in. As you can see by the other opinions provided, this album is solid and enjoyable all around. GrooGrux King is both a unique Dave Matthews Band album and a unique album in itself. THIS is the Dave Matthews Band album to start with if you want to dive into this band’s music. Big Whiskey is absolutely a Filet, a must-have for your music library.

Request an album for me to review with others in the comments below!

~Juck

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