With surely one of the best band names around how can The Jelly Jam fail? Although, you could have said the same thing about The Band Formerly Known As Sausage.
So, who are The Jelly Jam? Well, whisper it, but they are one of that phenomenon known as a supergroup. Ty Tabor, John Myung and Rod Morgenstein, from three of America’s top hard rock bands, King’s X, Dream Theater and Dixie Dregs, to be precise.
This is in fact the trio’s second album, following their debut two years ago when they changed their name from Platypus, under the guise of which they had released two earlier albums with another man familiar to Dream Theater fans – keyboard player Derek Sherinian. This turns out to be exactly the album you would expect from this threesome – high on top rock riffs and musicianship – but it also has a melodic quality which comes as a pleasant surprise.
Opening track Not Today sees singer and guitarist Tabor lending his skills to a grungy riff and lyrics where he sounds like he’s singing through a paper cup. An album full of individualism too, this becomes apparent right from the off with a couple of drum solos thrown in by Morgenstein.
Coming Round, the album’s second number, is a definite highlight and more reminiscent of something you might expect from US prog rockers Spock’s Beard. Acoustic guitars and harmonies make it more of a ‘song’ rather than just a vehicle for the musicians to show off their individual talents.
Empty then comes as a bit of a contrast with its menacing lyrics and metal riffs. A track that is bound to leave all of those long-haired metallers banging their heads with glee. But Drop The Gun arrives as the calm after the storm. The lyrics are repetitive to say the least but you can not fail to be impressed by the musicianship – the intricate drumming is a thing to behold. And this number merges straight into Allison, a heavier second part of the same melody, and another showcase of Morgenstein’s stick talents.
After this Maybe comes as a bit of lame ballad, and during She Was Alone you can’t help your attention being drawn away from the actual song and onto the mesmerising drumming once more.
Angel or Devil is one of the album’s strongest tracks, although you wonder what the band’s fans will think of Tabor proclaiming “I’m an angel”. This is before he then lends his “angelic” lyrics to another of the album’s highlights, the acoustic-led You Don’t Need Me Anymore.
A CD full of contrasts, the pace is then raised ten-fold again for the storming Runaway and by-far the heaviest number on the album, War Is., which leaves you reaching for the skip button when those horrible cookie monster lyrics raise their ugly head.
The final “song” on the album actually isn’t a song at all. Entitled Message, it is just a 36 second drunken ramble into a telephone answer machine. All seems pretty pointless really but I’m sure it seemed a good idea at the time.
Overall though, this is an album strong on musicianship with some solid songs. Fans of a heavy rock genre of music will love it, whilst there is also something there for the softer, more melodic, rock fan. So you could say the Jelly Jam spreads quite nicely.