CD Review – Jump – The Myth Remaster

Those lucky enough to have seen Jump live at some point will know what an entertaining, engaging, highly musical rocking band it is. But like all bands beavering away at what they love, it needs something that will act as a breakthrough for them, to take them to the next phase of their development. For Jump, this turned out to be the album The Myth of Independence, which was released in 1995.

The band has always been a hard-working and industrious one. They were always, it seemed, gigging in the early years, something they have maintained pretty much to this day, apart for the spectre of lockdown. By the mid-1990s they had released three albums, which were well regarded by a small but loyal audience. The band came to the attention of Marillion’s Mark Kelly when Jump played a set at the launch of Marillion’s ‘Brave’ film in Milton Keynes in the summer of 1994. Not long after, he offered to produce their next album, which would become The Myth of Independence. Jump’s singer and frontman, John Dexter Jones, reflects on those days; “We’d played nearly 300 gigs by the time we met Mark in 1994. On the day of the ‘Brave’ launch it was our fourth gig of the week – it was in the afternoon, and we had another that evening in a club in Milton Keynes, so that gives an idea of where we were back then. His help and contribution to what we were doing was pivotal. We’ve never spent long in the sunlit uplands, but those days were invaluable in shaping our belief that given the opportunities, we could do the business. The fact that we’re still here and we’ve recorded ten albums in the quarter of a century since those trips over to the Racket Club (recording studio) supports that view I think”.

Mark Kelly also has fond memories of that time; “We spent an enjoyable couple of weeks recording and mixing at the Racket Club. I have to be honest and admit that as a producer I was given a pretty easy task – the band knew what they wanted, so my contribution to the arrangements etc was pretty minimal, although I did get a chance to play a bit of keyboards on a few tracks…I have to say, it’s aged very well!”

The album was released through the Cyclops label, and definitely introduced the band to a wider audience, through gigs including the launch of Marillion’s ‘Afraid of Sunlight’ album and subsequent supports in London and Utrecht. Soon after that, a slot on Fish’s ‘Sunsets on Empire’ UK tour cemented a presence in the progressive rock underground that was slowly growing.

The Myth of Independence has been unavailable on CD for something like twenty years now, but it has now been re-released as The Myth Remaster, with Martin Atkinson handling the remastering. This process has certainly cleaned the sound up, improving the clarity and seeming to give the musicians more space. In many ways, the album epitomises the band. The swagger and raunch of the band when you see them live becomes a little more nuanced and a more folkish element is apparent in the studio. What makes the band tick though is the same in the studio as it is on stage – the cutting twin guitars, the lyrical bass work, the colourist keyboards, the subtly rocking drums, and the often fragile voice of singer John Dexter Jones as he intonates on songs full of pointed social commentary and reflection with no little humour.

Many of these songs are just as pertinent today as they were in 1990. The opening track, Tower of Babel, and Princess of the People still hit a nerve, while pieces such as Blind Birds and Keep the Blues would become live favourites and you can hear why. Jump are often referred to as a neo-prog band whilst others have questioned whether they are a prog band at all. You could argue that they were deemed neo-prog because of the time and the association with Marillion, who are perhaps the prime neo-prog band. There’s certainly a huge blues element with Jump that many prog bands (apart from the likes of Pink Floyd) do not have. But progressive rock should be inclusive and not exclusive, drawing on a variety of sources and creating new ones. If Jump are guilty of being one thing, it is being unique. Great to hear a fascinating album so clear and sharp. The CD boasts new artwork too.

Original album cover

1. Tower of Babel (7:21)
2. Princess of the People (5:12)
3. On the Wheel (3:56)
4. Heaven & Earth (3:41)
5. Valediction (4:19)
6. Runaway (1:58)
7. Keep the Blues (5:26)
8. Blind Birds (5:34)
9. The Shallow Man (4:38)
10. Drivetime (4:03)
11. On My Side (6:47)

Andy Barker – drums
Mo – keyboards
Hugh Gascoyne – bass
Steve Hayes – guitars
Pete Davies – guitars
John Dexter Jones – vocals

Compact Disc (CD) + Digital Album

Label: Dentel

Release Date: 20th June 2021

photo courtesy of Jump

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