Jelly Home

all the articles, back to 1995

what’s Jelly got to do with it?

The Jelly Jar
factoids, jokes & links

search / tips


Buy now at

Jason and the Scorchers
 A Blazing Grace, Mammoth CD MR0101-2

 The under-appreciated country rock band comes back swinging

 A Blazing Grace is the first album from Jason Ringenberg and company in over five years. It was worth the wait. I remember the first time I heard these guys, about ten years ago. Even though I hated all shapes and sizes of country music, I couldn't help but tap my foot a little. Okay, a lot. Here was a solid country band that really liked to crank it up and rock. I think it's fair to say that over the years they have evolved into more of a rock band that likes to country - well, for most of this album anyway.

As the album title promises, the boys get things off to a blazing start with "Cry By Night Operator," a roaring bar-brawl of a tune that fully exposes their rock'n'roll roots, but with lyrics that are 100% pure county. The rocking pace continues all the way through their version of (yep) John Denver's "Take Me Home, Country Roads." The first time I heard this track, it seemed a bit too predictable, and I had a hard time telling if they were serious. Take my word for it, folks, they're completely serious. After a couple listens, you get the feeling JATS guitar wiz Warner Hodges has been waiting since high school to capture his rendition of this sleepy tune in a recording studio. He exudes Eddie Van Halen with his wailing-whammy-bar-guitar licks and phaser pedal effects. The rest of the band is really having a lot of fun too, and I'll bet the boys pull out all the stops when they play this one live. It's too bad John Denver isn't dead so he could roll over in his grave.

It's also too bad that they don't have more punch for the middle of the album. Every bit of rock'n'roll momentum that they've gathered up comes to a screeching halt with the slow and forgettable "Where Bridges Never Burn." You may wonder if you can make it through the next 27 minutes without pushing Stop on your CD player remote.(Maybe they were thinking of Madison County. - Glenn) But don't give up. The pace picks up again with "One More Day of Weekend," a rockabilly tune that's just a bit too Jerry Lee Lewis for comfort, not really something JATS is best at. (A song would this is much better suited for someone like George Thorogood, mostly because we expect him to rip off classic rock riffs like this.) Anyway, from this track on, the rocking is back.

The bottom line is this. If you're a primarily rock fan who's feeling tempted to expand your record collection to include a few country bands, "A Blazing Grace" is a fine place to start. This will give you a good idea of what the recent renewed interest in real country music is all about. JATS cover a lot of musical ground very effectively with this album, demonstrating they can stomp their Red Wings yet be just as sappy as the next country band when they want to be. And thank goodness, they'll never be accused of sounding like Billy Ray Garth Michael Montgomery Cyrus or whoever that country guy is who's hot this week. --  Mark Oppfelt

 Glenn Brooks says... Jason and the boys seemed to be gone forever as they turned more and more rock, less and less country, following their 1985 classic "Lost & Found," finally petering out completely with "Thunder & Fire" in 1989. But glory be!, here's the original crew back again, with Jason's great twangy vocals and Warner Hodges' killer guitar. Even better, I think this may just be their best album ever. I hope they're back to stay this time.

production notes
Perry Baggs, drums, harmony vocals; Jeff Johnson, bass, electric cello; Jason Ringenberg, vocals, harmonica; Warner Hodges, electric & acoustic guitars, lap steel, harmony vocals.
Produced by Jason and the Scorchers; recorded and mixed by Mike Janas. 1995 release. (37:31)

song titles
Cry by Night Operator
200 Proof Loving
Take Me Home, Country Roads
Where Bridges Never Burn
The Shadow of Night
One More Day of Weekend
Hell's Gates
Why Baby Why
Somewhere Within
American Legion Party

of related interest

Jason and the Scorchers
Essential, Vol. 1 (Are You Ready for the Country), 1992 compilation, EMI CD 7777-95321-2
Get caught up with JATS on this twenty-one song compilation, containing the unforgettable "Absolutely Sweet Marie" from their major label debut "Fervor," and all of "Lost & Found." This seems to be out-of-print already, but you should be able to find a copy if you look hard enough.

A good web site devoted to the band is at

Copyright © 1995 Peppercorn Press. All rights reserved.