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Published: 2003/07/28
by Dan Greenhaus

10 Jams You May Not Have Heard

{Editor’s note: This is the obviously the product of one individual. There are many more bands and jams that one might place on such a list. Please do. Feel free to send a similar list our way that we can run next month…jambands@jambands.com}
Truth be told, I probably don’t know as much about music as I claim to, as hard as that is to believe. I’ve spend years as a fan of music trying to know as much as I could, hear just about everything I could, and as a musician, to play as much as I could. But as time has gone on, it has occurred to me that I have heard only a fraction of the great music that is out there for the listening. Each time I go to friend’s apartment, something I haven’t heard is on their radio, and it got me thinking, ‘If I haven’t heard this, what else haven’t I heard?’ Hence, I have decided to put together a brief list of jams that may have escaped your ears for one reason or another. Now mind you, these are not the ’10 BEST jams you haven’t heard’ or ’10 jams NOBODY has heard’. They are just plainly, ’10 Jams You May Not Have Heard’, and they come from across the world of music. Keep reading, you might be surprised by some of the choices.
1. Phish ‘Black Eyed Katy’ 11/23/97—It’s only fitting I start with the jam that inspired me to write this piece in the first place. Phish’s 1997 Fall Tour is about as legendary as any tour in the jamband world, with several jams and whole shows that are ‘best ever’, notably Denver and its ‘Ghost’, Hampton and its ‘Halley’s’ and Rochester’s ‘Drowned’. Seemingly lost in the shuffle, at least to me, was a little show down in North Carolina with several stand out jams, however it was the ‘Black Eyed Katy’ that made me sit up in bed upon hearing it. Trying to explain exactly what makes this version better than others is a little tough, since ‘BEK’, and subsequently ‘Moma Dance’, generally provide stellar jams deeply rooted in ‘cow funk’, but upon hearing this particular version, it’s pretty clear that its head and shoulders above most every other one. Trey’s lead work within the confines of the blues scale is as good as one could hope for as the song reaches energetic heights. The subtle start to the jam hides the ferocity with which each member ends the jam with, notably Gordon and his typically heavy thumping bass work during this time period. A must hear for everyone.
2. Jimi Hendrix ‘Hear My Train A Comin’ WoodstockIndescribable. Mesmerizing. Entrancing. Exhilarating. There are just simply not enough adjectives to describe Jimi Hendrix and his band on this day. It’s a legendary performance in the history of rock and roll witnessed by a small fraction of the estimated 200,000 attendees at the single greatest music event ever. ‘Hear My Train’ is quintessential Jimi, using his Wah-Wah and Uni-Vibe pedals to perfection, a setup soon mimicked by thousands of guitar players across the globe. It’s a nine-minute tour-de-force, an all out distortion heavy assault on the listener. It’s a guitar solo, but it’s a jam. It is simply not to be believed and has to be heard to fully understand the scope of Jimi’s power live and his never-before-or-since-equaled ability and vision with the guitar.
3. Disco Biscuits ‘Morph Dusseldorf’ 5/26/03—Some fans might find fault with my picking a jam that happened so recently, and others might find fault with my picking a Disco Biscuits jam that doesn’t segue, something they’ve become famous for. But after listening to this jam live, and subsequently on disk, I find it hard to leave it off the list because of the very fact that it is so new. It isn’t the best jam they’ve ever done, that much is certain. But the Penn’s Landing ‘Morph’ is everything the Disco Biscuits are about. Marc Brownstein’s thumping bass can be heard working perfectly along side Sam Altman’s kick drum precision, as they both layed the foundation for Aron Magner’s fantasic, yet simplistic keyboard work. The whole band, over and over again, resisted the urge to play more notes than necessary. Magner’s three-note lead line, albeit simple in a musical sense, was exactly what the jam called for and necessitated, creating a linear, but pulsating dance rhythm forcing the crowd into dance-overdrive in only the second song of the night.
4. Cream ‘Sweet Wine’ Fall ‘68What can one say about Cream that hasn’t already been said? Love him or hate him, this band showcases Clapton at his best. Try plugging a Gibson into a Marshall Stack while playing jazzy jam-rock and let me know how it sounds, because it sure wont sound like this. Add in Jack Bruce’s driving bass, Ginger Baker’s groundbreaking drum work, and play some rock riffs that send Tony Iommi running for the hills and you’ve got Cream, the best power-trio in rock history. ‘Sweet Wine’, never one of the band’s ‘hits’ always flourished live, as evidenced on the few bootlegs that circulate, as well as the Live Cream CD officially released by the band. The jam on the album is quintessential Cream, with Clapton’s searing lines almost taking a back seat to the heavy thumping of Jack’s bass which forces you to listen as he abuses your ears, while Ginger Baker’s work on the cymbals moves the jams in ways other drummers only dream about. Shortly into the jam, all three bring it down to near nothingness as they toy with each other building the jam back up. This jam, simply put, has everything you could possibly want out of Cream.
5. Gov’t Mule ‘Dreams’ 3/8/00—I first saw Gov’t Mule in August of 1997 and was immediately hooked. As a fan of ‘rock’ music, it was good to see someone in the as of yet unnamed ‘jamband world’ (in 1997) doing just that, rocking. Playing a gibson alone probably would’ve been enough to hook me, but put one in the hands of Warren Haynes, and I just about died. In his time with the Allman Brothers, the general consensus among my friends was that ‘Dreams’ was Warren’s best song with the band, as it gave him room to display his slide skills over the simple bassline, skills which Warren steadily phased out of his regular rotation to the point where you could go a whole Gov’t Mule show without seeing him play slide once, much to my dismay. So in March of 2000, when he brought Duane Betts (Dickey’s son) out to play guitar, we had a pretty good idea what song we were getting, being that ‘Dreams’ was the only song Dickey brought to the Allmans when he joined. The ensuing version may not have been the best one ever (I’ll leave that to ’69 Duane), but hearing Warren really let loose on the song for the first time in years was a treat the likes of which fans rarely get to see and hear, and it didn’t hurt that it was incredible.
6. moe. ‘Mexico->Recreational Chemistry’ 10/31/99—-What a Halloween. Arguably the best non-NYE night of the year to see music, every band always seems to take their music to the next level. But what moe. did in 1999 was take their whole show to the next level, incorporating ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ into both their setlist, and into the stage setup, laying the groundwork for a truly magical night of music, from beginning to end. But it was and the end of the second set, just after a fantastic ’32 Things’, that things got intense by way of one of moe.‘s best jams in their catalog. For starters, an impressive run through the usually standard Mexico Al guitar solo is present which, when culminated, ends with the band dropping down on a dime. Rob’s fretwork is impressive as he gives room for the resident guitar duo to show off some of their better displays of teamwork, even if the ‘post-solo’ section is a little short. And then, in the blink of an eye, Rob plays the intro notes to ‘Rec Chem’, the two boys catch on, and we’re off into a typically phenomenal ‘Rec Chem’. Stellar jamming by moe. in one of their best shows ever.
7. The New Deal ‘Techonbeam’ 8/10/02 (Berkfest)-In case you haven’t heard by now, The New Deal are the real deal. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing the band on nearly twenty separate occasions, in various states and provinces and each and every time is a sheer joy, even if every time isn’t ‘mindblowing’. However, that’s exactly what the band’s Berkfest set was: mindblowing. Despite early sound problems, the band recovered in strong fashion. Newer songs (at the time) such as ‘Gone, Gone, Gone’ and ‘Homewrecker’ spurred the band on, however it was the last forty-five minutes or so that drove the crowd wild by way of a ‘Moonscraper->Everything She Wants->Technobeam’ sandwhich. It was getting dark out by the time the band began teasing ‘Techonbeam’ and the evening light added a beautiful feeling to the crowd’s already intense energy. The band dropped into the song, after lengthy teases, inciting the crowd to go ballistic as anyone who was there will attest to. The cloud of dust the crowd was kicking up from the dry ground alone was enough to validate the jam. After listening to it on disk, the jam obviously looses a little of the luster of being there, however still retains the positive attributes of the jam and is well worth checking out, as you can still ‘feel’ the intensity.
8. Phish ‘Yamar’ 12/13/97—-Yes, another song from 1997 Fall Tour, but there is so much music in that time period, it’s easy to miss some, and this jam is one that almost everyone has missed. Considering that this is the now infamous ‘Bring in the Dude’ Mike’s Song, which invariably commands your attention when playing the show, the ‘yamar’ opener is as easy to skip, being that it is a typical show opener. But when this version is listened to, it’s a treat. The jam is sort of ‘accidental’ if you will, as Trey continued playing the main riff when the other three members thought the song was done, so Trey stopped playing just as the other three began, creating a seemingly awkward moment, when Trey began again. But as soon as both Mike and Trey switched the yet unformed jam from its major key, to a minor one, any awkwardness dissipated and the Pepsi Arena was left with a completely spontaneous A minor jam that soars with intensity and, if not for the Mike’s Song mayhem that ensued later, would easily be the most talked about song from a very talked about show.
9. Grateful Dead ‘Dark Star’ 5/11/72—Ahhhh…..is there any better jam song than ‘Dark Star’?? I don’t think so. And as such, I could listen to almost any version of the song that the band played. But, of course, certain versions are better than others, and the Rotterdam Dark Star is one of them. The whole show is fantastic with a stellar setlist, and a ‘Playin’ opener. But something happened in the second set and the nearly 50 minute ‘Dark Star’, swallowing a ‘Drums’, benefited greatly as a result. Literally dripping with psychedelia, the song is the definition of what early seventies Dead was all about. Jerry’s ambitiously clean lead lines move all over the fretboard, dancing on top of the meandering bass lines. The drums are perfect, and the use of the cymbals is a driving force in the entire jam. The keys, as always, are standout, with their droning minor chords adding to the landscape, as the bass actually plays on top. Is this jam that much different from other Dark Stars of the time? Probably not, but the near perfect quality of the disks that circulate certainly do not hurt the jam’s listening quality.
10. Medeski, Martin and Wood Shack Party To pick any one aspect of this Knitting Factory show would be a great disservice to the rest of
it. With somewhere around (at my count) 11 different guests including Vernon Reid and Steve Bernstein, the show is an all out throw-down with each different guest adding something to the mix, including Juliana Nash’s addition of her beautiful voice to, I believe, the only rendition of ‘Chain of Fools’ MMW ever performed. High quality recordings of the show can be found fairly easily, and with more funk than space, the show should be in every fan’s collection and should be played more often than not.
Dan Greenhaus was kidding, he really does know as much as claims

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