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Wormwood (iMusic/Fatboy)

The fellows in Moe say they don't like their quintet being known as a jam band. Yeah, and I don't like being the fat guy with the bald spot. A jam band is what Moe is, and as with most jam bands, the studio recordings normally don't measure up to the coltish energy of one of the band's concerts. Live albums, on the other hand, rarely match the polish of a studio effort.

The Buffalo-born band's latest CD is an attempt to let Moe have its cake and eat it too. Wormwood is composed of nine "real" songs recorded live, four segues, and one annoying finale of mainly maniacal laughter -- all with no breaks between tracks. Could this stuff have sounded as sweet on any conventional studio disc? On the flip side, do these songs work in concert, without all that editing and overdubbing, and with even longer jams? Both questions are moot, as Wormwood is what it is: a fantastic album. It should please longtime Moe lovers, while possibly hooking a few Phish "phans" who hadn't heard of this tight, dedicated outfit. All told, Wormwood could be Moe's finest moment.

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