Everybody Jam! (1996) is the follow-up to Scatman John’s highly successful debut album, Scatman’s World, and is a diverse offering compared to its predecessor. The overall production of this album is superior, with improved sound quality, packaging, and music. Because of the broad musical scope, the album also features a wide-ranging group of musicians, including a gospel choir. The result is a much fuller sound in contrast with his debut release. Ultimately, the album did not obtain the commercial success that Scatman’s World did, but it did help solidify John’s popularity in Japan.
Thematically, the album is a continuation of Scatman’s World. Musically, however, Everybody Jam! is even more experimental. It goes without saying that John’s trademark scat-singing is employed extensively, but there is also a deliberate attempt to branch out. “Stop The Rain”, for example, features a retro dance groove with samples of John beat-boxing. “The Invisible Man” is a cover of the techno-flavored Queen song. “Lebanon” is an ambient track with Eastern influences. The aforementioned gospel choir is present on “Message To You” and the infectious “(I Want To) Be Someone”.
While there are many promising tracks on the album, Everybody Jam! still lacks any obvious hits. Some candidates include the pop-infused title track, which is essentially a tribute to jazz legend Louis Armstrong. “People Of The Generation”, and the soul-influenced “U-Turn” are also memorable numbers.
Everybody Jam! was not as commercially successful as Scatman’s World. However, the fedora-wearing man with the battery-powered microphone was a marketable image, and became a big hit in Japan.
Imagination & Creativity: 9/10
At the inception of Scatman John, the proposal was to fuse John’s scat-singing with dance music and hip-hop beats. This idea has carried through into this album, but Everybody Jam! has a broader musical scope. Jazz, ambient, and world music can all be found on this compilation, and it all works. This makes for an album that has a lot of replay value.
Themes of self-examination and the human condition are still present here, but the utopian idealism has been toned down compared to Scatman’s World. While it is less of a concept album, the message is more universal and relevant to listeners.
Sound Quality & Music: 8/10
From the frantic jazzy grooves of “Scatmusic” to the contagious “(I Want To Be) Someone” and “People Of The Generation”, the album features a wide variety of tracks with layers of varying instruments. The sound is polished and well-mixed.
Writing & Premise: 8/10
Everybody Jam! is not a concept album like John’s previous album. The writing is similar, however, if not more constructive. The ever-changing musical styles are held together by a consistent thematic thread.
Everybody Jam! is a very enjoyable, festive and celebratory album. It may be somewhat underrated considering all the improvements that were made over its predecessor.
Author: David Andrew Wiebe
David Andrew Wiebe has built an extensive career in songwriting, live performance, recording, session playing, production work, investing, and music instruction. In addition to helping musicians unlock their full potential, he also continues to maintain a touring schedule with multiple bands.