Into the Music: Jam Bands
First Appeared at The Music Box, January 2002, Volume 9, #1
Written by John Metzger
Into the Music attempts to do the impossible by offering an overview of the jam band scene. Though its producers do make a respectable effort, there are simply too many bands worthy of inclusion — such as the Allman Brothers Band, Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix, Blues Traveler, and Widespread Panic, to name a few — that didn't make the final cut. The other difficulty facing the album's compilers is that in order to fit thirteen artists onto a single disc, the songs must be sufficiently succinct, thereby forgoing any truly astounding jams.
It appears as if the initial concept for Into the Music was to provide moments of comparison between the originators of the genre and their contemporary counterparts. For example, there are some similarities between Little Feat's Dixie Chicken and the Disco Biscuits' M.E.M.P.H.I.S. as well as between Merl Saunders' rendition of Sugaree and Medeski, Martin, and Wood's medley of Bemsha Swing and Lively Up Yourself. But these comparisons drift further and further away as the disc progresses, most likely due to copyright and licensing issues, and what might have been an interesting idea, winds up as an incomplete thought.
Nevertheless Into the Music does offer the uninitiated a reasonable portrayal of the jam band scene. That is, the progenitors of the genre still rule. Newer groups like Disco Biscuits, Ominous Seapods, and Jazz Is Dead still lag woefully behind — mimicking rather than creating. And the Grateful Dead are far and away the best that there ever was; the best that there may ever be. No one else even comes close.
Into the Music: Jam Bands, Vol. 1 is available from
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2001 The Music Box