Joel Jerome - Cosmic Bear Jamboree

by Mark Moody Rating:7 Release Date:2017-08-11

Everyone who has been there knows that the Country Bear Jamboree is not the highlight of the Disney attractions, though it still packs people in and provides a break from the heat while taking the crowd on a campy trip down classic country memory lane.  (One of my daughters who was pursued mercilessly by Liver Lips McGrowl after the show would describe it as a house of horrors and as an adult is still terrified by people in character costumes, but I digress).  Joel Jerome brings us forward a few decades from Tex Ritter's country bear heyday, to the classic sounds of the sixties British Invasion and seventies guitar focused rock on his Country Bear update - Cosmic Bear Jamboree.  

The album starts engagingly enough with a T. Rex cover of 'Cosmic Dancer' that outdoes Marc Bolan in its five minutes of psychedelic guitar and smoothly delivered vocal oohs and aahs.  Jerome is something of an underground sound engineer based in L.A., but also dabbles in homemade recordings so I assume all the instrumentation here to be his own and it's layered to great effect on the opening track.  The rest of the album is an amalgamation of styles and influences from the guitar rock dominance of the era.  I don't believe there are other straight out covers, but many songs feel as if you've heard them before - 'Tell Me Things' is essentially The Beatles' 'Don't Let Me Down' with different lyrics.  While the cosmically trippy vibe of the album's title and cover art seep into the spaced out melodies of 'You Are So Bad' and 'I Don't Want to Die' including some mild extraterrestrial sound effects.  

Two of the album’s best tracks, 'Errbody Wants Somebody' and 'Don't You Ever Think I Cry', recall the softer melodies of Badfinger or The Hollies.  Those tracks sandwich the countrified trifle of 'Yr Love Is Weird' that wouldn't be too out of place with the Country Bears, except for the reference to smoking cocaine.  'Alcohol' has a 'Riders On the Storm' melody but with a melancholic Ray Davies sounding vocal turn on the chorus (resembling nothing of the Kinks' same titled song though).

All in all this is a very enjoyable mix of styles and is sonically well done. Just as every attraction can't be Space Mountain, this album isn't going to change your life, but like the Country Bear Jamboree it serves as a pleasant enough diversion.  So sit down and enjoy the trip - no seat belt required.

 

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