The Jelly Jam – ‘Profit’ [Review]
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It’s often said that money is the root of all evil.
Looking around at the world, it can be hard to argue otherwise. Numbers dominate and define our lives, limits, sometimes even our loves. With Profit, The Jelly Jam go straight for the corporate world’s jugular – and throughout this album’s twelve-song track listing, the Western world’s unquenchable craving for cold hard cash is examined from a variety of creative and thoughtful angles.
Given The Jelly Jam’s lineup – guitarist/vocalist Ty Tabor (King’s X), John Myung (Dream Theater), and drummer Rod Morgenstein (The Dixie Dregs, Winger) – it goes without saying that as far as musicianship goes, these guys have it nailed down. The Jelly Jam’s sonic world is not one of out-of-key vocals, limp-wristed rhythms, and half-hearted production. We’re talking world-class performances all round, delivered with a degree of effortlessness that most musicians could only envy.
Ultimately, though, it all comes down to the quality of the songs. There are enough albums out there now that comprise little more than extended chopfests, and while those albums may be fun now and again, they rarely deliver the vital sense of life the majority of us look to music to provide. On Profit, The Jelly Jam’s members allow their otherworldly chops to take a back seat, serving the song in question at all times.
There may not be a definitive Jelly Jam style or sound, but there are distinct flavours of everything from prog to grunge and gritty alt-rock. Care drops in with crunchy riffs, bittersweet chord progressions, and a great chorus hook; Stain On the Sun meditates lyrically on Profit’s core topic; and Water takes things up a notch as massive riffs and odd time signatures trip over themselves. For me, Water proved an early highlight, ramping up the energy before Stop’s earnest vocals and rhythmic playfulness gave way to Profit’s ultimate centrepieces.
Perfect Lines (Flyin’) opens like a classic bass-driven Dream Theater masterpiece before twisting tangentially into classic prog territory: explorative and yearning lyrics, Beatles-esque harmonies, short piano break, soaring guitar solo, the works. My ultimate favourite track on this album, easily; Perfect Lines has everything you could possibly ask for from The Jelly Jam, all in a single song. Mr Man, meanwhile, gets straight to the point, addressing modern selfishness through menacing prog-grunge sleaze, meaty grooves, and a finger-tangling guitar solo.
From this point, Profit proves an enjoyable journey, albeit one that doesn’t let up on social commentary. Memphis is a riff rocker custom-made for cross-desert road trips; Ghost Town is mournfully downbeat; and Heaven addresses conformity and ignorance before fading out and into extended guitar solo Permanent Hold. The latter is an effective interlude, but gets cut short before it has the chance to evolve; there’s a lot of anticipation, but then it just goes away, leaving Fallen in its place. Fallen, in turn, suffers from a rare dip in quality for the first thirty seconds – but then The Jelly Jam pick up momentum and gradually take flight into the realms of nostalgic balladry. One epic call-and-response guitar solo later, and Fallen falls apart.
One more song – and it’s well chosen. Strong Belief shifts wickedly between waves of filthy rock and delicate not-quite-clean sections, shining darkly, an instant classic that ends Profit on a powerful note. Overall, Profit will easily appease fans of The Jelly Jam – and no doubt a large percentage of curious newcomers.
TMMP RATING: 92% (Essential Listening!)
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