Without question, the worst jam bands are indulgent, unimaginative, trapped in the past. The Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers weigh on them like fetid corpses, suffocating their individuality as they slog through creaky improvisations that add next to nothing to the rock 'n' roll canon to which they're so devoted.
Baghdad Scuba Review clearly have studied at the feet of Jerry and Duane, but to their credit, they aren't in awe of their icons. And that makes all the difference in the world. On "Out@11," the long instrumental that closes out their new album Testing the Waters, they drift effortlessly through Allmans-style double lead work, funky fusion and bass-heavy trance rock that's very much made for the twenty-first century dance floor.
Better still, the track isn't just about getting funky for the people. A tricky false ending in which guitars appear ascend to their final apogee and drums decay in a sizzle of crashing cymbals also finds BSR simultaneously tweaking their listeners' expectations and testing their own technical expertise.
That's a sure sign of a maturing act placed its old heroes up on a shelf of honor and turned to the more important business of defining its own musical space.
An MP3 of the track are available in the related downloads at right. More music by the group is available at its MySpace page. Baghdad Scuba Review will be celebrating the release of their new CD with a show on Thursday, October 4, when they will be joined by Run Side Down and Minglewood at the High Noon Saloon.
MadTracks highlights and provides MP3s of songs performed by local musicians. All tracks here are provided with permission of the artist. If you are a musician based in the Madison metro area and are interested in sharing your work as a MadTrack, please send a message.