Uncle Sammy

Naturally Preserved

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Stretching their Steely Dan-influenced funk to bold limits, Uncle Sammy's live release on the Phoenix label documents a night of ecstasy and mayhem at Manhattan's Wetlands Preserve, a comfortable and cozy home for up-and-coming jam band talent. Recorded in front of a capacity crowd the night the immensely popular Phish was playing uptown at Radio City Music Hall, Naturally Preserved has the band pushing their compositions to the limit. The band takes a little while to get going, and the first half of the disc is considerably weaker than the second half. Tedious white-boy groove workouts on "Jorge Benson's New Funk Explosion" and "Purgatory" give way to more developed musical thoughts by the end of "On the Level." By "Sociology," the band is in on more mature turf, reacting and responding to each other in a far more interesting manner. "Animal Child" is a fine cut and showcases the band in stereotypical jam band mode, pulling off a generic sounding peak with enough talent and originality to keep it interesting. The disc closes with a well-played but unnecessary take on Jaco Pastorious' "Teen Town."

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