Ah yes, Joe Russo and his compadre’s joining him in Almost Dead. I only got big into the group about a year ago, but I haven’t been delving deep into their catalogue until as of late. These guys are really pushing the envelope of the Dead’s music, and what it can be. It is quick, fast-paced, and powerful. These guys never give you a second to breathe. Every song is taken up to ten, and if it’s a quick, fast-paced, show that you want, reminiscent of some ‘77 shows, JRAD has got you covered. Take, for example, this show recorded at their stomping grounds of the Brooklyn Bowl on October 10, 2017. It features an entire first set that does not stop for a single moment, with each song jamming into the other, ending on a wonderful “Stella Blue” jam. Interlaced throughout this first set, is Stuart Bogie switching instruments from song to song. Hear him play an “Eyes of the World” starting with a Tenor Sax, later bringing out a Flute and Clarinet in the second set. The “Eyes” is a big highlight, being a favorite of the group and flourished with different styles and paces, and so is the “Dancing In The Streets”. Second set brings out an aggressiveness and speed not seen commonly in Dead shows. Case in point, take the “Other One” that follows a meandering “Uncle John’s Band.” They start this number off slowly, but it quickly builds into a fever pitch through the second half. It is also flourished with a Tenor Sax, courtesy of Stuart, and includes teases of “Roadhouse Blues” by the Doors, a “How Many More Times” by Led Zeppelin, and even a “Money” by Pink Floyd, all fit into sixteen minutes, while still carrying the driving force that a “The Other One” should have. It eases my one gripe with Dead and Company, that they don’t play this song with enough force behind it. JRAD fills that gap for me, as they absolutely blast through this number. In the second set as well, exists a monumental 42 minute “Terrapin Station.” Stuart breaks out all three instruments for this one, with speed being moderate, but still up-tempo. It features a “Wheel” jam, a “Swingtown” (Steve Miller) jam, and even a “Some Like It Hot” (Power Station) tease. This group really pushes the envelope of jam music, which each single show offering new niche’s that the Dead would explore in their formative year, rather than the stuck tried and true structure that they stick to today. JRAD is not afraid to push the envelope, and if explosive jams filled with teases, new sounds, and different takes on the music is what you need, look no further than this group.
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