Mental Jewelry

Live

Radioactive Records, 1991

http://freaks4live.com

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 01/16/1997

Forget, just for a few minutes, about Throwing Copper. Forget about their successful set at Woodstock '94. Forget about the hit singles and videos.

What you're now left with is just Live and their 1991 debut effort, my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Mental Jewelry. A cult favorite at the time of its release, it seemed to be more noteworthy for its producer (ex-Talking Head Jerry Harrison) than for the music.

And that's a shame. Because while this effort features a band that is definitely trying to find their musical niche, there are some powerful shots that show what this band would be capable of in a few short years. The opening track, "Pain Lies On The Riverside", is a prime example. There is a little more emphasis on Patrick Dahlheimer's funk-laced bass work than on the guitar mastery of Chad Taylor and the angst-ridden screams of Edward Kowalczyk. Chad Gracey's drum work is also highlighted, and for good reason - he is one of a few drummers who can set the mood from the beginning with the backbeat.

Another song which was a portent of things to come was "The Beauty Of Gray." The vocal harmonies of the band have already matured, and the playing is as tight as, say, "All Over You."

It is here the similarities stop. Mental Jewelry has a more lightweight sound to it, making it less powerful than one would hope for. Whether this is the fault of Harrisson's production hand or the fact this is still a band in development is not known. But if you pick this one up expecting a sound similar to Throwing Copper, you're in for a bit of a letdown.

This doesn't make Mental Jewelry a bad album, however. Cuts like "Operation Spirit," "Take My Anthem" and "10,000 Years (Peace Is Now)" are more than adequate to carry the album. And, viewed on its own, it is a well-done piece.

It is interesting to go back to a debut album to hear a band's progress from up-and-coming musicians to bonafide stars. Mental Jewelry is one example of this type of a roadmap, complete with potholes.

Rating: B-

User Rating: B


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© 1997 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Radioactive Records, and is used for informational purposes only.