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Umphrey's McGee - The Bottom Half CD (album) cover


Umphrey's McGee


Crossover Prog

3.66 | 37 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars A masterful disc of music combining everything glorious about the world of music.

Umphrey's McGee has become one of the great new jam bands that has swept the nation. Not only do they improvise in playing many different styles of music together, but they manage to play a progressive style of music while maintaining a free-flowing structure throughout their live shows. They've literally become a breath of fresh air in the world of jam bands, and music in general.

It's interesting to see this band on Prog Archives, and yet fitting to see them in the Crossover Prog section, because they essentially are. Start up the first track on "The Bottom Half" and the first things you hear are a slow groove accompanied by a smooth sax, light flute and broad guitars, before a quick reggae stint swings back into the main groove. After a catchy chorus sucks you in, the band delves into a hard rock headbanging groove before a few atonal solos come back into the main groove accompanied by Metallica/Tenacious D- esque guitar solos reminiscent of 80's thrash metal.

Keep this in mind that this is the only band in the world (that I've heard) that covered the Beatles' Abbey Road suite and Metallica's "And Justice For All" in the same live show.

I never even mentioned the avant-garde-esque instrumental section in the middle of the song. With most bands that I praise so highly, I can't say anything more than to listen to the actual song/album. The title song is already a good prog track, but then "Bright Lights, Big City" kicks into this psuedo-disco feel and it turns into a great driving song. Now, for most jam band fans (don't know how many are on here, but whatever), the key for a good jam band is to not only have good improvisational songs ("Great American"), but also some very catchy songs that anyone can listen to ("Intentions Clear").

Another interesting facet about , not only this record, but the entire band, is that they're a very light-hearted group of musicians. They're one of a select few bands that can start a very ambitious song with a screw-up, start over and keep that screw-up in the song on the studio record. They're not perfect and they don't want to come across that way. In fact, the second disc is mainly songs the band did in their spare time, snippets of other songs ("Words", "Higgins", "Atmosfarag") and cuts of band conversations ("Time Eater", "Ready Noodles"). They're another humorous bunch in the jam band world. Of course, most are (Phish, String Cheese Incident, The Disco Biscuits), but these guys really do show it in their live shows.

Keep in mind that many of their good songs (and some more progressive tracks) will only be found in live shows. Like Phish, Umphrey's has become infamous with playing songs at live shows not on studio records such as "Eat", "40's Theme" and "Bridgeless". Be it as it may, they know how to entertain a crowd, no matter what music they're playing. They've covered bands from The Beatles to Metallica, Billy Joel to Spinal Tap, Pink Floyd to Talking Heads. They're no stranger to any genre of music. They know how to appeal to everyone. They know how to create catchy music while throwing atonal notes and chord progressions familiar to prog fans.

And it works. The Umphrey's Cocktail works. Now, it might not have been as recognizable on, say, "Local Band Does O.K", but 10 years in and this outfit is going stronger than ever before. So, let me tell ya, if you're looking for one of those groups that plays spirited music while staying laid back and free-flowing, Umphrey's will fit your bill.

Wicket | 5/5 |


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