Tag Archives: Jam Band

2: When I Woke (Rusted Root)

Album: When I Woke
Artist: Rusted Root
Year: 1994

1. Drum Trip
2. Ecstasy
3. Send Me on My Way
4. Cruel Sun
5. Cat Turned Blue
6. Beautiful People
7. Martyr
8. Rain
9. Food & Creative Love
10. Lost in a Crowd
11. Laugh as the Sun
12. Infinite Tamboura
13. Back to the Earth

If you love jam bands, it doesn’t get much better than When I Woke. Drum Trip is just that, a long drum solo that really gets things off to a flying and energetic start, seamlessly introducing the rest of the album. Send Me on My Way is their one and only top 100 song. I used to be crazy about it, but one too many appearances in advertisements has ruined that. Thankfully, nothing else had a chance to be overplayed.

For the most part, the lyrics are not the appeal, though they are more moving on this album than on any other by the band. Cruel Sun is an epic, powerful, anti-war ballad. Beautiful People is another amazing ballad about self-doubt, addiction, and existentialist angst. The rest of the songs, for the most part, have lyrics that are about as deep as your typical country song and often make even less sense, but the wide array of instruments and vocal harmonies blend together for a wonderful listening experience.

29: Hoist (Phish)

Album: (Hoist)
Artist: Phish
Year: 1994

1. Julius
2. Down with Disease
3. If I Could (with Alison Krauss)
4. Riker’s Mailbox
5. Axilla, Pt. 2
6. Lifeboy
7. Sample in a Jar
8. Wolfman’s Brother
9. Scent of a Mule
10. Dog Faced Boy
11. Demand

Hoist is Phish’s most pop-friendly album, put them on the map for general audiences, though their follow-up album, Billy Breathes, was even more popular. I like both albums, but this one has more of my favorite songs. I tend to prefer their songs that highlight the guitar and drums rather than Trey Anastasio’s voice. His voice is fine, but on some songs, like Lifeboy, he has this high-pitch monotone thing going that ruins everything.

The album begins with an upbeat jam in Julius that really sets the table. Down with Disease was the most popular single from the album; it’s done well, but lacks the bite I would like. If I Could is my favorite song on the album, thanks in no small part to Alison Krauss, who has now made two albums this week as a guest singer. It’s a simple but beautiful ballad.

Riker’s Mailbox is just thirty seconds of noise, but they got Jonathan Frakes to play trombone for it, which is pretty awesome. Axilla, Pt. 2 is a nice jam. I have no idea what the heck is going in Sample in a Jar, but it has a fantastic melody. Wolfman’s Brother is an extended jam with empty lyrics but I find it very relaxing. Scene of a Mule is a crazy folk song about a cowgirl who makes her mule take a dump to defeat hostile aliens. It’s funny, but not terribly pleasant to listen to very often.

Dog Faced Boy is an honest, acoustic ballad that I enjoy, but your mileage may vary.  I generally stop the album there. Demand is an extended jam following a guy driving recklessly down the freeway for several minutes before a terrible crash, followed by a prayer. The jam is okay, but not great, and too long to deal with.

37: Remember (Rusted Root)

Album: Remember
Artist: Rusted Root
Year: 1996

1. Faith I Do Believe
2. Heaven
3. Sister Contine
4. Virtual Reality
5. Infinite Space
6. Voodoo
7. Dangle
8. Silver-N-Gold
9. Baby Will Roam
10. Bullets In The Fire
11. Who Do You Tell It To
12. River In A Cage
13. Scattered
14. Circle of Remembrance

Rusted Root, an acoustic jamb band from Pittsburgh, became moderately known after their first studio album, When I Woke, peaked at #51 in the chart and their only hit, Send Me on My Way, got a bizarre amount of movie and commercial placements. That and a growing fan base helped their second album, this one, peak at #38. They haven’t had much success since, though they continue to do well in concerts. While it’s true their music isn’t all that commercial, I think they just haven’t done much interesting since this album.

It’s hard to describe why I like this album. Some of the lyrics are unintelligible, which is par for the course. The lyrics that are understandable are vague like poetry but I’m not sure they’re supposed to be analyzed; rather, the words seem more of an excuse for the band to belt out some music. The music draws from African (including voodoo), Latin American, and Native American influences, and relies heavily on percussion and the unique vocal stylings of Michael Glabicki. In fact, your tolerance for his voice will likely dictate your interest in their music.

There are no songs on Remember that I would point to and say “okay, this is awesome,” but the album is consistent from beginning to end, which just doesn’t happen that often.