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Jump - Over The Top CD (album) cover

OVER THE TOP

Jump

 

Neo-Prog

3.91 | 17 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

kenethlevine
Special Collaborator
Prog-Folk Team
4 stars "Over the Top" marks the 25th anniversary of JUMP's first album, and finds the band paradoxically at their most rock and folk oriented. Rock because the dual guitars are more than ever marked by authoritative riffs. Folk because the subject matter tilts towards social commentary and historical fiction, while the melodies seem traditionally inspired. From a prog rock point of view, most of the songs divert from the standard verse-chorus structure with shifting tempos and sometimes jarring arrangements, but, as with all JUMP releases, I caution the listener to sidestep any expectations of a neo prog nature and instead be prepared for a powerful modern yet retro rock album with dashes of folk. Did I say that this rocks far more than most in the prog universe?

As many times as I have listened, the two opening numbers remain my favourites, both supernaturally oriented tales of woe. The first recounts the sighting of a ghost being hung by a passer by who meets with the same fate for not seeing an officially sanctioned ghost. It's chilling and yet musically vibrant, not unlike many early STEELEYE SPAN tunes. The second is about a ship carrying riches diverted to its ruin by mysterious lights. GORDON LIGHTFOOT or CHRIS DE BURGH merging with STRAWBS might sound like this. Perhaps if you blended in some RED JASPER and OYSTERBAND you might get a bit closer still. Both of these tracks are delightfully archaic in a neo folk manner yet, again, much more rock oriented.

The album returns to its critique of religion on "End of Days", "Old Gods", and, to a lesser extent, "Behind the Lines" and "Vagrant's Song". The best of these is "End of Days", about how those hard done by at the hands of organized religion might exact revenge, immersed in another heavy guitar motif. It's a fine line between honest criticism of social institutions and sermonizing, which John Dexter Jones largely avoids, although on the softer tunes like "The Vagrant's Song", I'm not moved enough by the music and am somewhat mortified by the bare brutality of the lyrics.

The second high point is struck with "This Beach", which, at over 7 minutes, is the longest JUMP song I can recall, and it earns its breadth. Alternating between more monstrous guitar themes and shanty like verses, the best reference I can come up with is the monumental "Dust Bowl Dance" by MUMFORD and SONS, and the metaphysical relationship between the narrator and his physical environment represents an additional intersection. "Johnny V" is an arena rock paean to a departed DJ with a heavy metal fixation who introduced the singer to so many bands. Lots of philosophizing here about life and its elusive meanings, not all highly poetic, but none better than "appointed by the bar to spin the soundtracks of our lives". In the more reflective parts, the guitar style approaches MARK KNOPFLER, and an organ interjects appropriate reverence elsewhere. In tribute to Johnny, we are treated to the only seriously "over the top" moment, a lead guitar solo with all the appropriate twists in a 40 second burst, while the rhythm section is quite equal to the task.

"Staring at the Rain" closes the album in fine fashion, a rocker about life on the road, where this band has trod for the lion's share of its formidable lifespan with a magnificent riff on an album rife with them. This could have been a hit single during the era from which JUMP is so evidently inspired. Again some DIRE STRAITS references in the break, with maybe a sliver of WARREN ZEVON. I honestly don't know how JUMP manages to assimilate all its influences, but that they have done so while establishing their own selves as reference point is formidable.

If you have been waiting and wondering about test driving JUMP, I recommend taking the leap with this album and working your way backwards from there, because this is a band that continues to evolve while remaining as entertaining as ever.

kenethlevine | 4/5 |

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