Mighty Baby

A Jug of Love

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Originally released in 1971, Mighty Baby's second and, for nearly a quarter of a century, final release is a deft, understated, and often magical synthesis of any number of musical strains. Stepping further away from the group's louder roots in the Action and taking in everything from an embrace of Sufism to further explorations ranging from Gram Parsons and the Band's country-rock to jazz and obscure folk, A Jug of Love is all the more remarkable for being a rushed effort, recorded in barely a week's time. But the group's strength in performing together for years served it well, and the resultant album, while a minor classic rather than a holy grail, is still a classic as it stands. Certainly anyone familiar with the Byrds and Spirit, to name two groups among many, won't be surprised by the end result, but the bandmembers themselves freely admitted to the influence (the cover is surely a nod to Fifth Dimension, at least), and songs like the gentle gospel-blues of the title track and the mandolin-tinged "Slipstreams" speak to it clearly. Moments like the beautiful buried harmonies that help open "The Happiest Man in the Carnival" and the subtle interplay of the musicians during the extended instrumental break on "Virgin Spring," at over nine minutes the longest of the album's tracks, show the band's evident talent well in hand. Even the fairly straightforward boogie of "Keep on Jugging" works well enough instead of simply killing time, thanks in part to a fantastic extended coda.

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