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Album Review

Some artists live for the stage, and some live for the studio. Hip-hop, urban contemporary, dance/club music, and electronica are very studio-oriented mediums; most rappers, in fact, are so technology-minded that they sound much better in the studio than they do on-stage. But the electronic, high-tech approach, for all its pleasures, hasn't eliminated the need for live music — from hard bop to death metal to Mexican norteño, there are still a ton of artists who can't wait to hit the stage. And roots rockers Jerry Joseph & the Jackmormons certainly sound like they feel that way on Mouthful of Copper, a two-CD set that was recorded live at the Irish Times in Butte, Montana in August 2002. That doesn't mean that the power trio — lead singer/guitarist Joseph, bassist Junior Ruppel, and drummer Brad Rosen — are uncomfortable in the studio, or that Joseph's studio albums aren't enjoyable. But it does mean that the threesome brings a certain urgency to the stage, and Mouthful of Copper successfully captures that urgency. This double-CD has a great sound — tough, raw, hard-edged, powerful — and one person who can take much of the credit for that is producer/engineer Betty Cantor-Jackson, who recorded these live performances. Cantor-Jackson is best known for her work with the Grateful Dead, but Joseph doesn't sound anything like the late Jerry Garcia and his colleagues. While the Dead were the quintessential San Francisco Bay Area jam band — relaxed, subtle and laid-back — Joseph spares no energy or passion on these rugged, sweaty, whiskey-soaked performances. Some of the trio's hardcore fans may nitpick about the song choices, and wonder why certain tunes weren't included, but if Mouthful of Copper falls short of definitive, it is still a captivating document of Joseph and his Jackmormons on stage in 2002.

Mouthful of Copper, Jerry Joseph and the Jackmormons
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