Current Issue Details

Buy Current Issue

Columns > Dan Greenhaus

Published: 2006/05/14
by Dan Greenhaus

Who Says Jambands Dont Make Good Albums?

Quite a long time ago, maybe 2001 or so, I wrote a review of an Uncle Sammy show at Wetlands, with Brothers Past opening. In the review, I noted that while Brothers Past certainly had potential, I felt that their songs were lacking depth and complexity, although I dont recall if I used those exact words. Subsequent to its publication, Brothers Pasts drummer contacted me via email to say hed read the review, and the band felt along the same lines and they were consciously attempting to write some songs with more sections and depth to them. Many years later, the band would release This Feelings Called Goodbye and with it they managed to address the observations and concerns of a few fans, and managed to put together a phenomenal album at the same time.
So one wonders, where did the idea come about that jambands are incapable of making quality albums? Call my crazy, but I dont think thats true. What is certain at the outset is that jambands, as a whole, are often at critical disadvantages when it comes to major label artists. Studio time is far from unlimited and often times, as a result of the costs, a jamband must get in and get out without racking up thousands of dollars in studio costs. When you consider that Pink Floyd reportedly spent anywhere from four to six months on the song Dogs alone, it puts the disparity in context.
But even with such disadvantages (ignoring the fact that in many cases, jambands are, shall we say, less than exceptionally talented), several bands have managed to churn out quality albums, and in some cases, exceptional ones.
Going back to the 60s and 70s, one need look no further than Workingmans Dead and Santana for a quick refuting of this argument. Both albums are stellar from start to finish and helped propel each respective band to international fame and legendary status. Now, I know someone is going to say that the bands that made those albums dont count for some reason, and neither do the Allman Brothers Band, even though they started out as twenty-somethings just like todays jambands (granted, each band had Jerry, Santana and Duane respectively). So with that in mind, lets focus for a moment on todays bands.
Ignoring the aforementioned Brothers Past release, todays jambands have released more than their share of quality albums, none of which should be overlooked or dismissed. Most recently, The Derek Trucks Band released Songlines and with it, Derek proved once again that he is every bit the musical force everyone says he is. The Duos release Best Reason to Buy the Sun is also an accomplishment, and if Becky and 9×9 arent songs that should be played at every concert, than I dont know which songs should.
To this day, moes No Doy remains one of the most played albums on my Itunes, and I imagine many more people out there feel the same. Combining moes propensity for jamming with their always interesting songwriting, No Doy is a landmark in the jamband world and fans should count this among their most haves.
Percy Hills two standout albums Color in Bloom and After All are arguably two of the best albums to be released on jambandom, with the former on many peoples list as the single best jamband album of all time. Discounting the fact that Percy Hill may not actually be a jamband, Color In Bloom is an absolutely mesmerizing album and one that even friends of mine who dont like jambands can enjoy. And while the follow up isnt CIB:II by any means, it is an exceptional album in its own right.
On the heavier side of things, Govt Mules first two releases Govt Mule and Dose are required listening for any hard rock fan, with enough jamming to thrill even the most ardent jamband fan. With Allen Woody on board for both albums, the original Mule, as Ive repeatedly noted, was a tour de force and these two albums are perfect representations of their ability. Whether its Rocking Horse and Temporary Saint on the first album, or Blind Man in the Dark and Larger than Life on the second, Mules power is on full display and both albums are powerful albums through and through.
Even with all the albums Ive named, we could go further and talk about Laugh, Clone, Artifact, Eudomonic, Last Chance To Dance Trance, A Town Called Earth, Born on the Wrong Planet, Anchor Drops, A Go Go and Angels Come On Time to name a few. And all that without naming a single Phish, Widespread Panic or Grateful Dead album (ignoring Workingmans Dead).
So next time someone remarks that jambands done know their way around the studio, pop on In the Kitchen or Freaker by the Speaker and remind them thats not always true.

Show 0 Comments