A follow-up to the highly successful (artistically) Mandance
, Barbecue Dog doesn't quite reach the explosive heights of its predecessor, but is arguably the next best item in Jackson
's discography. The band strikes a comfortable balance between the horns and the electric instruments, allowing each to surface when needed, and also compliments the required barnburners with more contemplative pieces. Thus, for every "Trial of an Honest John" where the sky threatens to cave in, there's a lovely, serene number like "Mystery at Dawn," with the leader switching to flutes and often incendiary guitarist Vernon Reid
(pre-Living Colour) plucking a delicate banjo solo. As worthwhile as the better numbers here are, however, the bulk of the compositions begin to settle into something of a rut, if not necessarily a bad one. The listener begins to hear a certain standardization of material that would become more apparent in subsequent releases. Still, there's much to enjoy here, including Henry Scott
's dazzling trumpet work, the unreservedly funky dual bass playing of the Reverend Bruce Johnson
and Melvin Gibbs
, and, of course, the leader's own roiling, brink-of-chaos drumming. Barbecue Dog is possibly the last Decoding Society
recording that can be recommended with few reservations.