Welcome to Our World
First Appeared at The Music Box, September 1998, Volume 5, #7
Written by John Metzger
Since the passing of Jerry Garcia in 1995, keyboardist Melvin Seals has reformed the Jerry Garcia Band, including drummer Donny Baldwin and backup singers Jackie LaBranch and Gloria Jones. Now simply dubbed JGB, the band has released Welcome to Our World, which was recorded live at the House of Blues in Los Angeles on October 31, 1997. It captures the band in the midst of a transitional period just prior to the departure of Baldwin and vocalist/saxophonist Armin Winter.
On this release, Winter's vocals have been toned down significantly, and with the exception of Mission in the Rain and I Shall Be Released, they don't detract from the rest of the band. LaBranch and Jones add their tender, gospel-tinged voices at just the right moments and guitarists Peter Harris and Judah Gold rip some rather exuberant and stirring Garcia-esque solos.
Touring virtually non-stop for the past several years has certainly helped the band to gel. A scorching run-through of Not Fade Away features some wonderful interplay between Seals and the two guitarists. As Gold and Harris lock into an Allman Brothers-inspired duet, the band moves into an equally brilliant Don't Let Go. Seals adds a swirling, colorful excursion of his own that touches briefly on the primary musical theme of On Broadway before moving the band into an incredibly transportational jam. (Actually, this pairing also features a masterful edit by Seals to remove Fire on the Mountain from between the two songs).
The album also contains a touching tribute to Garcia with a medley of My Sisters and Brothers, Will the Circle Be Unbroken, and Everything's Gonna Be Alright. JGB has further improved since this release, but this disc isn't a bad place to get reacquainted with their music. ½
Welcome to Our World is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 1998 The Music Box