Jelly Jam, The - The Jelly Jam

Year of Release: 2002
Label: InsideOut
Catalog Number: IOMCD 096
Format: CD
Total Time: 45:07:00

There are already three reviews of this CD, but hopefully the editor will indulge me and let me have my say. Oh wait. I am the editor. Ah, well, then I have carte blanche to just forge ahead, don't I?

The Jelly Jam, as you well know by now, is what has been preserved of the band Platypus - that being guitarist/vocalist Ty Taybor (King's X), bassist John Myung (Dream Theater) and drummer Rod Morgenstein (Dixie Dregs, among others). Derek Sherinian made up the fourth member, but went on/back to his solo career and Planet X. But, what remains isn't some sticky sweet concoction, but a potent and at times tasty compound. Shame it takes a long time to really get going. The ingredients that most captured my, ahem, tastebuds comes at the middle and at the end of the album in the form of "The Jelly Jam" and "Under The Tree," respectively. But overall, this release doesn't muster a whole lot of enthusiasm from me. The performances are good, but each track seems to sound the same to me - the same effects are used over and over. Tybor's vocal performance hardly varies, given the same effect for each track -- or maybe he just sings that way.

The trio gives this new recipe a harder edge, as evidenced by the grungy (as in dirty, but also as in "grunge") opening track "I Can't Help You." Here drums are very up in the mix while guitars and bass create a sludgy wall of sound. Tybor's guitar does break through a bit, but it consistently Morgenstein's drums that drive the piece. In most cases, Tybor's vocals here and elsewhere on the album are run through an effects filter. Things get heavier with "Nature's Girl" where snapping drums and screaming guitar mix. In part, it sounds like something Soundgarden would have done. The bridge is an arty, atmospheric affair -- snickering cymbals provide a shimmery backdrop for some sparse guitar playing from Tybor... actually, here is where it sounds less like Soundgarden and more like Rush, with a bit of Hendrix thrown in as we come out of the bridge. The happy, clear vocals of the chorus give this yet another aspect, and yet it all hangs together well.

But, then the album loses its drive with the next two tracks that follow. "Feeling" is spacey, psychedelic, and tried to recall the heady days of the late 60s, but...something, I feel, is missing. Some spark that makes it interesting to listen to. This is followed up by the equally spacey "Reliving." Frankly, I would have dropped the previous track in favor of this one, as this does a much better job of recalling a time in the past, and even takes that as a theme. This track features a big guitar solo, which livens up this piece, and suddenly livens up the album... but this has the sound of a track that would end the album. Instead, it comes at the middle.

The title track does start with an atmospheric sonicscape, on the edge of becoming something... and with a word like "jam" in the title, you'd expect a freakout of some kind. But no, just some textured filled guitar phrases from Tybor... and some very nice ones, too. Just when you think it's going to be all Tybor, Morgenstein subtlety starts mixing up the drum pattern that had previously been a steady backdrop. It becomes a duet between Morganstein and Tybor and then, rising up from the mix comes Myung on bass... ah yes, the jam has finally jelled. How very clever.

This leads into the heavy and more energetic (compared with 4 of the first 5 tracks) "I Am The King." Sure, the dreamy vocals have returned, but the momentum begun with "I Can't Help You" is rejoined. The chorus is more than just a title, it's a statement, which Tybor delivers forcefully both vocally and with his guitar.

The album features also two brief instrumental interludes, the latter of which is the more interesting, that being "The King's Dance." It recalls the "The Jelly Jam," which helps to tie the latter half of the album together. And it leads us, after a brief pause, into "Under The Tree." The piece essentially begins with Tybor strumming an acoustic guitar, launching into a mellow Beatlesesque track (though Porcupine Tree also came to mind). The track mixes some heavy, grinding guitar passages with these more light, lyrical passages. Sure, the echo-y, breathy effect that has been used throughout the album is used here, but with Tybor singing in a lighter manner, it makes it all work.

This album isn't awful. There's nothing that makes you recoil in horror. It's just that, despite the energies being expended, or not expended when they should, I find it mostly dull. Apparently, looking at those other three reviews, my partners-in-crime don't agree.

I Can't Help You (3:01) / No Remedy (4:05) / Nature (0:59) / Nature's Girl (5:12) / Feeling (5:22) / Reliving (4:12) / The Jelly Jam (5:50) / I Am The King (4:38) / The King's Dance (2:11) / Under The Tree (9:37)

John Myung - bass
Rod Morgenstein -drums
Ty Tabor - guitars, vocals

The Jelly Jam (2002)
2 (2004)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: December 2nd 2002
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 671
Language: english


[ Back to Reviews Index | Post Comment ]