23 Jam Rock acts prove smoking roots with ska, jazz & blues

Mike Schoeck

High Times stands as an alternative high-circulation magazine. For 27 years scores of artists have graced its cover as a counterculture on the tough task of legitimizing marijuana use in our 50 states.
Since Frank Sinatra and up through Mick Jagger, Bob Marley and more recently Snoop Dogg and Marilyn Manson, High Times has remained on periodical stands thanks to its grass roots advocation. Jam band and experimental acts like the Grateful Dead, the Allman Brothers Band, and Phish best represent a brew of acts on such a compilation.
In collaboration with King Biscuit Records’ “Flower Hour” radio syndication and web-based free speech network Burly Bear TV, High Times pulls off its most ambitious compilation recording to date. “Rip This Joint” is two hours of rare music featuring 23 of “rock’s smokingest acts.” Woodstock-era rock acts like Canned Heat and Peter Frampton’s Humble Pie as well as recent jazz and southern rock jam-bands like North Mississippi Allstars and Galactic represent the array of bands on the double-disc compilation.
This compilation is not aptly a greatest hits record, but more of a chronological sampling of rare and live performances in jam rock. Disc One showcases the clear cut sound of the Grateful Dead jam sound with artists like Keller Williams and Dead-member Bob Weir’s band Kingfish. Traditional ska band Fishbone breaks through in bombastic style on “AIDS & Armageddon” before we get too grooved into Galactic and String Cheese’s funk and folk jams.
North Mississippi Allstars and Fishbone are the only two extreme bands on the edge of the jam spectrum on Disc One. The Mississippi trio dish out a nine-minute southern blues jam. The compilation is nicely garnished with two southern rock bands, the Allstars and influences Gov’t Mule.
The Mule consists of blues-rock founders the Allman Brothers Band’s Warren Haynes and Allen Woody. Woody passed away last year and a replacement is yet to be found. The trio blasts through an eight-minute rendition of the Muddy Waters and early Led Zeppelin blues staple “I Can’t Quit You Baby.” Really the only band that can parallel this caliber mastery is the Black Crowes as of late with or without guest of honor Jimmy Page.
Now that you might ask about any logistics as to picking up this worthwhile compilation; No, you don’t have to smoke grass to somehow experience “Rip This Joint,” as many of the artists and liner note scribes might suggest. Listening to Foghat’s “Slow Ride,” also heard in the 70’s stoned film classic “Dazed and Confused,” plus Canned Heat and Humble Pie will surely induce enough nostalgia or pre-Disco warmth. Comparable moments come from watching “That 70’s Show,” the “Woodstock” film (the first episode) and “Almost Famous.” Les Claypool, Karl Denson and Big Head Todd as is are odd enough on this compilation to balance out much of the psychadelia and roots rock.
For information on marijuana’s legalization debate or if you missed the recent debate on campus check out www.norml.org and www.hightimes.com.
Grade: B-