Jiggle the Handle

Mrs. White's Party

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A mostly live album, Mrs. White's Party has more polish and pizzazz than most studio sets. In fact, it is often difficult to tell which tracks were recorded where. Aside from a bit of cavernous echo which comes off the large rooms that JTH consistently fills and wild enthusiastic tell-tale cheering from the band's adoring fans, the songs themselves are impressively clean and well-balanced. Though it is obvious that the band thrives in live performance, the energy and fun pulses through the entire album. The album crackles to life with the opening bouncer "Can't Get Enough," which is substantially supported throughout by Ethan Mackler's hard-pulled bass and which ends with a brief but pleasantly surprising vocoder break. Gary Backstrom's fluid fret funk and screaming solo fills the second track, "Walk Right Out Your Door." "Another Fool" is a pleasantly mellow groove, featuring the boogie-woogie ivories of keyboardist emeritus Rob Moellering. Track four (the album's longest, at a solo-filled ten minutes) is the light and rhythmic "From Inside You," which features a trippy guitar fill and full, echoey vocal harmonies. The jam breaks (featuring Backstrom and current organ grinder Paul Wolstencroft) are both free but impressively coherent. Transforming flawlessly into the bass-driven growly guitar swirl of "Vertigo," the band stays together for this free-form instrumental odyssey, only crumbling to crackly cacophony on very rare occasions. Guest vocalist Anita Suhanin helps the band drive through the Traffic-jam ballad "Break the Light." Mackler's solid slap sifts through "Sand" (which features a frenetic four-string free-for-all). Two guitar chops, and listeners are taken to "Easy Street," a gospel-y clap-along full of happy, hopeful harmonies and broken only by another wondrous Wolstencroft whirl. Propelled by the consistently vibrant and varied percussion of JTH's fourth force, drummer Greg Vasso, "Sowelu," rises from the silence to provide a wild and only occasionally sloppy instrumental intro to the a bluesy falsetto funk flight "Invisible." Featuring a synthesized horn solo by Moellering and a swirl-to-crunch set which includes the return of the vocoder among its many varied surprises, this second to last track displays the band's talents in various forms and arrangements. The party almost over, the album closes with the appropriately titled "Turn Myself Back Home," a countrified jaunt which is sure to send Mrs. White's guests humming and dancing out the door, tapping their toes to the Mediterranean vibe of the "hidden" coda.