Jerry Joseph And The Stiff Boys “Tick”

Dial Back Sound, 2022

A companion album to ‘The Beautiful Madness’ that is more than a simple rehash.

Portland, Oregon, resident Jerry Joseph released his career-best album, 2020’s ‘The Beautiful Madness’, after releasing over thirty albums with various bands and combinations of musicians. What was even more remarkable was that Joseph was 59 years old at the time. While Joseph’s career had mainly operated under the commercial radio, his songs had been covered by other artists, largely within the Athens, Georgia, music scene, particularly by Widespread Panic. He also formed a friendship with The Drive-By Truckers’ Patterson Hood, and this is what led to The Truckers backing Joseph on ‘The Beautiful Madness’ as The Stiff Boys, which was recorded at Truckers’ bassist Matt Patton’s Mississippi studio and included various Trucker co-writes. Joseph also supported The Truckers on their European tour in 2021. Joseph is a great songwriter, singer, and performer, and more than that he always gives 100% to whatever he does. This last part is one of the reasons for the release of ‘Tick’ which gathers together demos and unused studio tracks from the recording of ‘The Beautiful Madness’ on side one of the vinyl, while side two is made up of live recordings with Jerry Joseph backed by The Truckers. Matt Patton has curated the collection of tracks and it is being released on his Dial Back Sound, and it is the fact that Jerry Joseph always gives a 100% performance that means that these tracks have their own value, rather than simply celebrating and rehashing ‘The Beautiful Madness’.

The album’s first two tracks, the title track ‘Tick’ and ‘Sometimes A Great Nation’ are demos recorded at  Joseph‘s bandmate from the Jackmormons’ Stephen Drizos’ home studio, Panther Studios. They were recorded with Patterson Hood as part of the preparation for ‘The Beautiful Madness’ and then seemingly largely forgotten. While these tracks may be only demos and feature the twin guitars of Joseph and Hood, and Drizos on percussion on ‘Sometimes A Great Nation’, they have the power of the best rock songs and reveal a glimpse of the essence of Jerry Joseph. ‘The Mountain’ is a full band track, with music co-written with Matt Patton, that has power without any sense of bombast. Jerry Joseph has an affinity with southern rock and this is brought home with ‘South Of South’. The tempo is brought down for the final studio track ‘Quiet’ that does exactly what it says on the tin and shows Joseph’s vocal flexibility even with a full band.

Side two of the vinyl version of ‘Tick’ are live recordings of Jerry Joseph being backed by The Drive-By Truckers, playing songs from ‘The Beautiful Madness’, recorded by Dave Barbie in 2020 at the 40Watt Club in Athens, Georgia. The songs were newly minted at the time and this is the first live recording of the songs backed by The Truckers who only had a sound check to run through the live versions. Given Joseph’s inability to give anything other than 100%, and The Truckers’ punk roots, you can imagine what happened at that particular gig, and now you can actually hear a performance that celebrates the songs on ‘The Beautiful Madness’ in a rough and loose way, with Jerry Joseph taking full advantage of leading The Truckers by his force of personality. The five tracks include ‘Days Of Heaven’, ‘Bone Tower’, ‘San Acacia’, and ‘Sugar Smacks’, and if anyone had any doubts about the power of ‘Dead Confederates’ to encapsulate the current state of the American South, then this version leaves you in absolutely no doubt.

Archive releases have a chequered history, as do the additional tracks on re-releases, and there is always the question of whether will anybody listen to them more than once or twice when you can listen to the parent album itself. In this instance, the answer is a very affirmative, yes. Obviously, the ‘Tick’  tracks are rougher and looser than the official release, but you get five new songs that would have merited inclusion in some way on the official album, and live versions that show what a great combination Jerry Joseph and The Truckers make. Jerry Joseph was at the top of his game when he recorded ‘The Beautiful Madness’, and the release of ‘Tick’ shines more light on a uniquely talented artist. Finally, The Truckers’ support capabilities and Patterson Hood’s production skills are also given an extra burnish with their various contributions to the newly released tracks. ‘Tick’ is definitely a lot more than a ‘The Beautiful Madness’ rehash.

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About Martin Johnson 387 Articles
I've been a music obsessive for more years than I care to admit to. Part of my enjoyment from music comes from discovering new sounds and artists while continuing to explore the roots of American 20th century music that has impacted the whole of world culture.
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