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Safety In Numbers

Umphrey's McGee

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Album Review

When "jam bands" began to infiltrate the music scene in the '90s, it seemed like fans were content to hear bands jamming away for hours on end — à la a Grateful Dead show. But later in the decade, these Dead offspring began to branch out into other musical styles — even going so far as to streamline their compositions to start resembling actual songs. A good example of this is the third studio album overall by Umphrey's McGee, Safety in Numbers. With more than half of the album's compositions not exceeding the five-minute mark (something that was virtually unheard of "back in the good old days" of jam bands), Safety in Numbers covers an impressive amount of musical ground. And you've got to love a band that invites Huey Lewis to lend his harmonica skills to the tracks "End of the Road" and "Women, Wine and Song" (the latter of which sees Lewis lend a hand in the vocal department, as well). Additional standouts abound — including the speedy album opener "Believe the Lie" and the tough riff rocker "Nemo." There is a new dawn for jam bands in the early 21st century, and Umphrey's McGee is definitely helping to usher it in.

Biography

Formed: 1997 in South Bend, IN

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

A jam band coming out of the Midwest in the mid-'90s, Umphrey's McGee edged toward the Frank Zappa side of the improv rock scale, as opposed to the Grateful Dead/Allman Brothers Band direction of their many contemporaries. The members of Umphrey's McGee met at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. The original four bandmembers (keyboardist Joel Cummins, guitarist Brendan Bayliss, bassist Ryan Stasik, and drummer Mike Mirro) had been playing in various campus bands when they got together...
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Safety In Numbers, Umphrey's McGee
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