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23 Jul 2017

The James Gang "Yer' Album" 1969 US Southern Hard Blues Rock Classic debut album

The James Gang  "Yer' Album" 1969 US  Southern Hard Blues Rock Classic. debut album, .recommended

full with super sound….

The James Gang's debut LP, Yer' Album, was very much a first record and very much a record of its time. The heavy rock scene of the period was given to extensive jamming, and four tracks ran more than six minutes each. The group had written some material, but they were still something of a cover band, and the disc included their extended workouts on Buffalo Springfield's "Bluebird" and the Yardbirds' "Lost Woman," the latter a nine-minute version complete with lengthy guitar, bass, and drum solos. But in addition to the blues rock there were also touches of pop and progressive rock, mostly from Walsh who displayed a nascent sense of melody, not to mention some of the taste for being a cutup that he would display in his solo career. Walsh's "Take a Look Around" must have made an impression on Pete Townshend during the period before the album's release when the James Gang was opening for the Who since Townshend borrowed it for the music he was writing for the abortive Lifehouse follow-up to Tommy. If "Wrapcity (i.e., Rhapsody) in English," a minute-long piano and strings interlude, seems incongruous in retrospect, recall that this was an eclectic era. But the otherwise promising "Fred," which followed, broke down into a pedestrian jazz routine, suggesting that the band was trying to cram too many influences onto one record and sometimes into one song. Nevertheless, they were talented improvisers, as the open-ended album closer, Jerry Ragavoy and Mort Shuman's "Stop," made clear. After ten minutes, Szymczyk faded the track out, but Walsh was still going strong. Yer' Album contained much to suggest that the James Gang, in particular its guitarist, had a great future, even if it was more an album of performances than William Ruhlmann .......

Yer Album is the debut album by James Gang, displays this power trio’s genius and raw power through the compositions but also shows their lack of recording experience due to the various filler throughout. Based in Cleveland, Ohio, it is clear that the group looked both to the East and the West for musical inspiration. This applies to their original compositions as well as the pair of covers. With a healthy dose of British heavy rock and California folk rock topping the trio’s Southern blues-flavored core, Yer Album is a celebration of all elements of the expanding world of rock and roll and the end of the sixties.
James Gang drummer Jim Fox was a member of the band, The Outsiders, who had a national hit, “Time Won’t Let Me”, in the mid sixties. After leaving that group, Fox wanted to form a group oriented towards British rock. He recruited bassist Tom Kriss and a guitarist and keyboardist to form the original incarnation of the James Gang. After several lineup shuffles during the group’s first year, Fox was approached in 1968 by guitarist Joe Walsh who wanted to audition for the group. As the group narrowed from a five piece to a trio, Walsh assumed lead vocal duties and would eventually be their most identifiable member.

ABC Records staff producer Bill Szymczyk was assigned to the group, a serendipitous move that began a long professional relationship between Szymczyk and Walsh. Szymczyk would go on to produce all three of the James Gang’s albums which Walsh played on as well as many of his solo albums through the 1970s and later albums by the pop group the Eagles, which Walsh joined in 1976. But long before the group was posthumously dubbed “Joe Walsh’s James Gang”, they were a legitimate power trio, with each given their own space to jam and demonstrate their musical chops.
First the frivolous and annoying. In the grooves of the at the ends of each side of the original LPs were the infinite spoken messages, “Turn me over” and “Play me again”. Such antics also pertained to the opening tracks of each side. “Introduction” starts the first side with an improvised string quartet which cross-fades to a strummed acoustic riff which then roughly dissolves into the first proper song. It is a bit ironic that the first proper song by a group featuring a guitar legend like Joe Walsh is so keyboard dominated as “Take a Look Around”. The verses and chorus are dominated by an out-front organ and a piano holding the back end, all built on calm textures and acid rock ambiance. The song is strong on melody and mellow throughout with the middle section cut by a slow but piercing electric guitar lead, which returns again in the outro with a fuller arrangement. After this song is an odd, but interesting, section with competing spoken words and phrases.

“Funk #48” contains the simplest of grooves and lyrics in the simplest of songs, albeit still very entertaining and a great contrast from the previous song. Szymczyk commented that the song started as a sound check warm-up riff but quickly developed into the funk/rock groove, driven by the rhythm section of Kriss and Fox. The second half of the first side contains a couple of extended renditions of contemporary covers. Starting with a grandiose intro of piano and strings and interrupted by wild guitar interludes, the group eventually kicks into a rock-oriented version of Buffalo Springfield’s “Bluebird”. After a few verses, the song slowly meanders into a middle jam with exquisite drumming by Fox and texture-based guitar phrases by Walsh. The Yardbirds’ “Lost Woman” provides an extended showcase for each musician, particularly bassist Tom Kriss, who starts his showcase with a hyper-riff on bass and provides, perhaps, one of the most extensive bass solos in rock history. Most of this nine minute is an extended jam where each member leaves it completely out on the floor, especially the rhythm players, as the entire jam is much more than self-indulgence, it builds in tension and intensity throughout.

Side Two starts with more ambient noise, in the totally annoying “Stone Rap” before the beautiful, moody, and dark “Collage”, co-written by Patrick Cullie. This track could be the theme song for the entire album, as it truly is a collage of musical styles. The calmly strummed acoustic is accented by poignant but moody bass and strong drums and later some high strings and slight electric guitar join the mix. Overall, the tune is a real sonic treat and is original like no other. “I Don’t Have the Time” sounds (early) Deep Purple influenced as it is fast paced heavy rock, dominated by guitar overdubs and a furious drum beat, all while Walsh’s vocals carry an even keel, keeping the whole song grounded.

The final filler piece, “Wrapcity in English” goes back to the piano and string quartet with a melancholy, minor note and not quite as frivolous as the rest of the filler on the album. “Fred” is one of the odder songs on this oddest of albums. The organ returns (although not as much presence as on “Take a Look Around”) and first two verses have long and deliberate vocal lines for a somewhat psychedelic effect. In contrast, the middle bridge features an upbeat jazz/rock section with harmonized guitars. The twelve minute “Stop” feels like the most natural song for the band on the album – a totally legitimate power trio jam, which seems like it will never actually “Stop”. A great track for jam-band enthusiasts, especially those who lean towards the heavy rock/blues side, the group provides a parting shot to show the great promise for the future.

However, Yer Album would be the one and only album to feature these three together, as bassist Tom Kriss departed from the group by the end of 1969, making this a true capture of lightning in a bottle....Classic Rock review.............

Forgiving the cornball artwork (three very un-Rock 'n' Roll photos taken on Bill Szymczyk's camera down by the waterfalls in Kent, Ohio centred by a sepia oldie of the famous American outlaws) and that throwaway Hicksville title "Yer' Album" - I loved everything about THE JAMES GANG. They made a huge sound for a Trio and of course at the centre of that rattle and hum for their first three albums was the brilliance of Joe Walsh's songwriting and playing - the stuff of melodic axeman legend (a man who rocks The Eagles to this day).

That’s not to say that there isn’t indulgence a-plenty on here – unfortunately there is. The nine-minute cover version of The Yardbirds' "Lost Woman" and the twelve-minute Side 2 finisher "Stop" especially are often cited as guilty culprits (Walsh clearly didn't have enough original material). A Gerry Ragavoy and Mort Schumann song initially released by Howard Tate in December 1967 on Verve Records (a Soul dancer with lyrics) and subsequently featured on the "Super Session" album in September 1968 as a guitar-instrumental by Al Kooper and Mike Bloomfield - "Stop" most notably comes in for some serious stick. Although it mixes elements of both the Tate and Kooper/Bloomfield takes on the song – TJG's version ambles on for twelve minutes before finishing on silly in-studio dialogue about '...You're not done! Dunn's in California!' An edit would have better.

Speaking of which - that giggling-in-the-studio "Stone Rap" that opens Side 2 soon tests a person's patience too – but it was an album of the time and when they weren't tweaking accomplished studio cuts like "Collage" and "Take A Look Around" with the new Producer whizz-kid Bill Szymczyk (fresh from triumphs with B. B. King) – they let rip - and laid-down those cuts live. Walsh alludes to this in his short liner-notes-input – they were young and new and hindsight is a great thing. I'd argue therefore (as no doubt would he) that despite liberties-taken - this is a 'takes it as you find it' record and you have to allow for that. Here are the CD Reissue/Remaster details...

US released 6 June 2000 - "Yer' Album" by THE JAMES GANG on MCA Records 088 112 282-2 (Barcode 008811228224) is a straightforward CD Remaster of the original 11-track LP and plays out as follows (49:58 minutes):
Their "Yer' Album" debut LP hit US shops in its natty gatefold hard-card sleeve in October 1969 on Bluesway/ABC Records - while Blighty had to wait until February 1970 to see it emerge on Stateside. The elaborate pencil drawing by Ladimer Jeric that adorned the inner gatefold takes up all of one side of the four-leaf foldout inlay that also features new comments from Joe Walsh and Jim Fox on the recordings – but no other insightful liner notes unfortunately (the real James Gang photo used on the front cover is beneath the see-through CD tray and the collage photo of the rear sleeve is on the rear inlay).

But the big news is a BILL SZYMCZYK and TED JENSEN Remaster from original tapes - and this unwieldy beast has never sounded better - the acoustics on "Collage" beautifully clear while the band letting rip on the lengthy solo passages of "Stop" sounding like they're on stage in your living room. A nice job done of a difficult transfer...

It opens with 40 seconds of strings and acoustic-guitar referred to on the original album label as "Tuning Part One" - now simply called "Introduction". It immediately segueways into the brill "Take A Look Around" - a typically hooky Walsh keyboard melody with silly word play at the end (it titles this review). Before the single "Funk No.49" from the next album "Rides Again" put them on the chart-map in 1970 - we get its predecessor "Funk No. 48". It rocks in a similar way but it has to be said not as good as the re-done hit did. Far better is their cover of Buffalo Springfield's "Bluebird" - a song so many bands seemed to take to heart. Susan Carter did a version of it with guesting Blood, Sweat & Tears types on her 1970 LP "Wonderful Deeds And Adventures" on Columbia - while Bonnie Raitt did another on her self-titled debut album in 1971 on Warner Brothers (see reviews for both). Here The James Gang add strings and backwards guitars initially only to Neil Young its ass with some hard-rocking thereafter. I've always been ambivalent towards the 'live in the studio' version of "Lost Woman" where TJG sound like Led Zeppelin trying to work out who they are and not quite succeeding. It's good for sure if you like a whig out (dig that Bass and Drums battle) but it's never been my cup of Java really...

After a few moments of stop-start waffle about Take 1 and Take 3 - we get the sublime "Collage"- the kind of song that indicated just how touching Walsh could be as a songwriter when he stopped thrashing his scratch-plate for ten seconds. Over in England Stateside Records debuted the band on 45 a month before the album was released with "Collage" – using it as the B-side to "Funk No. 48" (January 1970 - Stateside SS 2158). But the British single did no business and is (like the UK pressed album) a collectable now. "I Don't Have The Time" is a little too frantic for its own good - while the Gershwin-titled "Wrapcity In English" turns out to be a forlorn string-intro to "Fred" - a droning Walsh riff that goes into a cool Prog guitar flourish towards the finish. And it ends on "Stop" - dominating the Side and the LP with someone else's song.

It's not all genius for sure - but it's Joe Walsh - and that's enough to make me weak at the knees. Yer' album - I dig it y'all.....By Mark Barry............

‘Take A Look Around’ opens this album, and for me it was a prophetic song, as I was stepping on a plane bound for Vietnam. 

The album is very strong and confident, mixing what was left from the music of the psychedelic era and what was about to follow. On a side note, James Gang was rejected by the Apple Recording Company, a letter sent to them saying that Apple didn’t feel the music of James Gang was up to snuff and James Gang would probably go nowhere. I can only wonder if any of the Beatles were involved in that decision. Happily James Gang found a label willing to nurture and support them as they found their footing to become one of the greatest bands in the world. 

It’s a very funky jam of an album, and quite original for the day. I’ve often wondered were people find the inspiration to bring out something so new, solid and original. James Gang manages to make their guitars talk back and forth to each other. There are some nice smooth vocal harmonizing as well ... these carry over and laying right on top of the guitars. The drumming laces it all up tight, balancing that CHUNK CHUNK of the bass. Great record, great production, state of the art for the day ... the only thing it leaves you wanting is for ............

One of THE great unknowns, a lost 60's classic. Easily their most eclectic and impressive my ears anyway. Before heavy metal there was hard rock and this was the most intelligent of the hard rock bands. This one seems to have it all, almost. Loose jamming. Tightly constructed songs. A folky tune. A proggy tune. Humor. Straight ahead rock. Touches of psychedelia here and there. And to top it all off a song called simply, "Fred." This band had taste up the wazoo! 

One of my favorite 60's albums. I'd dry hump the thing if only it would let me. Great guitarist and a great rhythm section to go along with a very capable producer. Joe Walsh did many good things after this, both with this band and as a solo artist (his Eagles contributions have been slim) but he never really was this interesting musically ever again Though his first 2 solo records come close. 

I'm a man and I'm not ashamed to admit I love Joe. Hell, I'd lick his face if I thought it would cure cancer or result in another album this good. Would I suck his dick for that? No way. Let that asshole Henley suck

JAMES GANG is famous for being the first major band of guitarist Joe Walsh who is more famous for his solo albums and his work with The Eagles. On this debut album his signature sound is definitely on board. His nice slow and easy bluesy guitar playing as well as his more rockin' riffs all make their debut here as well as his instantly recognizable vocals. After many line up changes since their formation in 1966, they ended up as a trio on this album. 

Considering this came out in 1969, this is a very well developed album that sounds like the perfect transition album from the heavy psych and blues of the 60s (which they may have picked up by opening up for Cream) and the hard bluesy rock of the early 70s reminding a bit of the Allman Bros despite not having dual guitars and also a bit like the sound the Edgar Winter Band would eventually pick up on. There is a definitive funky jamming feel to this album. These are composed songs of sort but definitely get a lot more meat on them in the tasty improvisation that is attatched. 

There are hard rockers and tender ballads and several freaky intros as well. This album is really a treat to listen to from beginning to end. Melodic and hard hitting and to be honest I actually like this debut album better than the first Led Zeppelin album that came out the same year. This is definitely bluesy hard rock in nature but so much more was added to spice it up that I can't help but love the feel of the whole .........

My favorite Lp by the James Gang and probably my favorite Lp involving Joe Walsh as well. Just about every track is great on this, but for me "College" is a standout, a beautiful, melancholic ballad-y track with some orchestral backing. It may actually be the best of all the similar tracks of this type that Joe Walsh attempted/created later in his career. 

The original vinyl 1st pressings on the Bluesway Label (..which went broke not long after the Lp was released) sound spectacular, brilliantly clear and

Largely remembered as a vehicle for guitarist Joe Walsh, few people realize that the James Gang was formed by drummer Jimmy Fox and that Walsh was only a second generation recruit. 

Interested in earning some extra money, in 1966 drummer Fox convinced bassist Tom Kriss and guitarist Glenn Schwartz to join him in a cover band. Versatile musicians, the trio began playing local school dances and talent contests, before eventually moving on to local Cleveland area clubs. In early 1969, prior to being signed by ABC's Bluesway subsidiary, Schwartz left to join Pacific Gas and Electric (see separate entry). After auditioning a number of replacements, former Measles guitarist Joe Walsh was added to the lineup, generating widespread acclaim with his unique voice and heavily phased lead guitar. 

Widespread publicity, including serving as an opening act for Jimi Hendrix (many fans though Walsh blew Hendrix away), led to a contract with Bluesway and the band's 1969 debut "Yer' Album". Produced by Bill Szymcyyk, the debut album featured a surprisingly tuneful collection of guitar powered hard rock. A mix of popular covers (an extended nine minute remake of the Yardbirds' "Lost Woman" and the Buffalo Springfield's "Bluebird") and originals ("I Don't Have the Time" and "Funk #48"), the album showcased Walsh's interesting nasal vocals (it frequently sounded like they were being electronically treated) and Walsh's stinging guitar runs. Propelled by an opening slot on The Who's 1969 American tour, the album proved a surprising success, eventually reaching #83. Following the collapse of Bluesway, ABC reissued the collection. (The album was originally released with a gatefold sleeve - gee, what's that plant Walsh's holding on the back cover?) .........

Beauregard, the rockin' housecat was really in a pickle. He said to himself...."Man, I jus' gotta review me some heartland American rock-n-roll, preferably from the early '70's. I wonder what dad has in the CD collection that would slack my thirst for quality rock". Bobo ran up into the den and perused the CD's. "Well lookee here, a number of albums by that Ohio band, James Gang. I'll bet these fellers rock. But, where have I've heard that name before?". The cat stroked his chin, thoughtfully. "Ah-ha, I recall now", exclaimed Bobo..... "Joe Walsh was an early member of this band". The rockin' housecat reached into the CD library and removed a James Gang album titled "Yer' Album. After some computer research, Bobo learned that this album was released in '69 and was the band's debut. Band members consisted of Walsh, guitars\keyboards and lead vocals; Jim Fox, drums and Tom Kriss, bass. "Hot-dog", said the cat as he removed the disc from the jewel case and inserted it into the changer and pushed play. 

The rockin' housecat sat on the couch and listened to the album. Upon completion he thought ..."Hey, not bad! I really dug that early '70's rock sound. Gimmie uptempo blues-rock and long funky jams any day of the week. The best track on this album was the second track, a strangely named rockin' tune called "Funk #48". I wonder what happened to Funks 1 thru 47. Must be a mid-west thing. Anyway, back to the album. Three of the better album tracks are covers: Bluebird (Buffalo Springfield); Lost Women (Yardbirds) and an extended (12 min.) version of the R&B jumper, "Stop", originally sung by soulman Howard Tate. The band stretches its boundaries somewhat on "Fred", but the semi-psych vocals and jazz rhythms of that track don't cut it with this cat". 

Bobo continued..."For this particular release, a special call-out goes to the dude who remastered this album. A fine, fine, job. The sound was jus' jumpin' from the speakers. However, I gotta note a couple of aspects that I could have done without. First, if it was up to me, I'd have dropped the recordin' blather between takes. I found it to be distractin'. Also, some folks could legitimately argue that Walsh's vocals where gettin' mighty close to "whiney", which is always bad for a rock vocalist. But the band compensates by the quality of the music and their enthusiastic performance. I'm gonna have to spend some more time investigatin' the James Gang". 

It came time for Beauregard to rate Yer' Album. After much thought, the rockin' housecat decided to recommend a three and one-half star rating for this album with a recommendation to buy. However, he suggests young rockers hold-off purchasing the album until more of the James Gang discography is reviewed and ..........

The group was formed in Cleveland in 1967. The first guitarist was Glen Schwartz, who later joined 
Pacific Gas and Electric. Schwartz was replaced by Joe Walsh. In 1969, a threepiece (Jim Fox-dr 
Tom Kriss-bg, Joe Walsh-g, voc, kbd) record the album. "Yer Album" is released by ABC and 
Bluesway. The first record included both the group's own material as well as two covers - Bluebird , 
originally by Buffalo Springfield and Lost Woman , written by The Yardbirds. The tunes on the first 
album can t be referred to as a typically American rock. A careful listener can easily find many 
European influences. Also, The James Gang toured with The Who, which could affected on the 
band's style. The debut album sounds kind of "cold", I d say. However, after some time you may find 
the stuff more fascinating. The album is full of cello sounds (the tracks: Tuning Part One; Stone 
rap; Wrapcity in English). But, I recommend a song called Stop. If you're not engrossed by "Yer 
Album", I d recommend The True Story of James Gang . It was released by Sea For Miles in 1997. 
Why so? 
As simple as that the album is a compilation of the band's best songs. Although the group itself wasn't 
very notable it is worth remembering. First, Joe Walsh used to be a member of The Eagles (the guys 
who played Hotel California ). Tommy Bolin, who replaced R. Blackmore In Deep Purple 
(during the Come taste the Band era), also played in James Gang. Any further recommendation 

The James Gang were a psychedelic blues power trio modeled more on Hendrix than Cream, but lacking the high-stakes skills of either outfit. Their debut album, produced by a young Bill Szymczyk, is typical of the psychedelic rock albums from the period: studio in-jokes, spoken asides, incorporeal interludes, inscrutable lyrics and some blistering blues-rock guitar to ground it all. Although the Gang was founded by Jim Fox, Joe Walsh is their focal point: he sings, plays guitar and organ, writes most of the original material and is at least a level above the ability of Fox or bassist Tom Kriss in terms of chops. Honestly, most of the bands in this genre/timespace (Steve Miller, Rhinoceros, Steppenwolf, Vanilla Fudge, etc.) were too busy burning incense to the blues-rock gods of their elevated imaginations to make consistently good music and too high to notice the difference between experimentation and mental masturbation. Not surprisingly, The James Gang are most effective here when they stop trying to construct their own stairway to hippie heaven and let Walsh jam off of other people’s platforms. Buffalo Springfield’s “Bluebird,” Yardbirds’ “Lost Woman” and 12 minutes of a seemingly unstoppable Walsh joined by Jerry Ragavoy on his “Stop” are highlights of Yer’ Album. The originals aren’t bad (“Collage,” “Funk #48,” “I Don’t Have The Time,” “Fred”), but after forty years they’ve deservedly settled into the substrata of psychedelic rock, where their fungal pungency is more suitable for growing mushrooms than building temples of legend. That said, the inspired soloing on “Stop” clearly warranted an encore. Rather than a lost rock classic (as some would have you believe), this is simply the dirt and dust of lost ages, notable mostly as an early and ambitious flight from a pair (Walsh, Szymczyk) who would rise to greater heights with Eagles. [Super secret squirrel note: "hidden" spoken messages appear at the end of side one ("Turn me over") and side two ("Play me again") if you let the needle go to the end.]...............

Guitarist/frontman Joe Walsh is the ultimate classic rock regular suspect, briefly leading Cleveland's funk-rock power trio James Gang to album-oriented radio success, constantly turning up on a guest star, slipping into the Eagles as a new member when that band was already at its mid-70s peak, and managing a handful of solo hit singles that have become CHR standards. Walsh's bratty, self-deprecating sense of humor and first-rate guitar god antics set him apart from most of the pack, and his chameleon-like stylistic variety and crowd-pleasing pop-rock sensibilities aren't too far from (say) Todd Rundgren. But none of his albums really holds up as either consistently well-written or particularly innovative, his work with the Eagles was often in really poor taste, his big 1978 hit "Life's Been Good To Me" is a mixed blessing, his solo albums through the 80s and early 90s mostly flopped, and his thin, unsteady vocals are a major minus.
Walsh's big break came in 1969, when he was recruited to become the James Gang's frontman on the strength of his super-professional rock guitar skills - his early recordings show methodical influences ranging from Stephen Stills to Duane Allman to Jeff Beck, and his command of effects, slide guitar, and overdubbing was always masterful. None of the group's album's were exactly masterpieces, but Walsh always came through with at least one really memorable rock epic. He kept up the same mix of singer-songwriter balladry and power-chord grounded funk-rock on his first few solo albums in the early 70s, did some side-work producing acts like Dan Fogelberg, and then joined the Eagles in 1975, appearing on two major hit albums before that band broke up. By 1980 Walsh had gone right back to steadily releasing solo records and touring, and despite recording no substantial new material after the early 90s, did continue to team up with other classic rock artists - for example, he's a regular member of Ringo Starr's ever-changing superstar bands, and he participated in the highly lucrative mid-90s Eagles reunion....Wilson & Alroy`s review......

The reissue of James Gang’s first three albums by MCA is somewhat appropriate given the consistent historical relevance this band has had over the last 30 years. When Joe Walsh joined this band in 1968 he proceeded to make a name for himself as one of the most important rock voices in the genre. These three albums serve as milestones in the winding history of middle American music into the seventies and eighties.

Like a beacon of things to come “Take a Look Around” opens Yer’ Album with producer Bill Szymczyk playing a trademark organ complimented by a pulsing fender bass accompaniment that became the calling card for whole decade of progressive rock. Joe’s vocal, with their affected vibrato and throaty nasal whine would speak to a generation of boogie rockers. But it’s the third track, “Funk #48”, that would define what I like best about James Gang. In one piercingly electric swoop, namely the Funk, James Gang became a singularly defining Midwest guitar rock band.

Drummer Jim Fox was the core of The James Gang. He recruited Joe Walsh and, even after Walsh left the group to eventually join the Eagles and become an artist in his own right, Fox managed to release a couple more albums under the James Gang moniker. These reissues feature liners notes by Fox, Walsh and bassist Dale Peters who played on recordings two and three.

The rest of Yer Album tends to meander and wallow in the whole experience of their first time in a recording studio. Producer Szymczyk seems to in charge and this proves to be detrimental to any kind of cohesion to the recording. However, there are gems and nuggets here for the persistent fan.

Considered by many to be the best and most representative of James Gang with Walsh, The James Gang Rides Again, recorded in 1970, is among my favorite recordings of all time. With equal amounts of stridency and overblown self indulgence this album introduces the world to Joe Walsh’s song writing and the sound of a band with two solid years of road work. Though Bill Szymczyk continues to elaborate on a flowery Beatlesque (read George Martin) approach to orchestral augmentation, the album opens with a stripped down series of songs that harken back to Steppenwolf and look forward to Grand Funk Railroad, ZZTop and (uh-hm) even Steve Albini’s Rapeman and Shellac projects.

The first track, “Funk #49”, is arguably the greatest guitar boogie tune of all time. Chugging through a riff to end all riffs Joe Walsh belts out the most incoherent and, more importantly, stupid lyrics ever uttered on tape. The comedic second track, “Asshtonpark”, seems an ode to Country Joe and the Fish, while track three’s “Woman” simply provides a template for the next 10 years of AOR Top 40. So with nearly no over-dubs or post production gimmickry Jim Fox, Joe Walsh and Dan Peters defined a genre.

Rides Again continues with trademark Joe Walsh songwriting. Walsh makes an undeniable contribution with a spectacular sense of tonal textured guitar playing and stellar technical prowess. Rides Again shows a mature collection of songs with an nice balance of recklessness and concentrated a compositional exploration. This album captures Walsh innocently displaying his instinctual pop sense in a care-free setting.

Thirds opens with undeniable foreshadowing of Walsh joining the Eagles. Like a basement tape from Hotel California, the opening track, “Walk Away”, features an arrangement style that would become a trademark for the Eagles. As the song fades out we hear Walsh settling into a jam that can only hint at how great this band might have been live. “Yadig?” revisits a common theme throughout all three of these releases. Namely, Fox, Walsh and Peters seem to have an ethno-musicological fascination, and each of these albums has an off-the-wall interlude that either doesn’t fit the rest of the mood on the album or quite deliberately goes somewhere unexpected. This particular piece is a jazzy vibraphone interlude. These kinds of pieces hint at a deeper, almost collegial side to the trio; after all, they were students at Kent State when Fox asked Walsh to join the band in 1968.

Thirds finds The James Gang at their most accomplished and their most divided. Walsh couldn’t even be bothered to include it on the discography that appears on his personal website. Since three records appears to be an industry standard nowadays, Walsh probably agreed to fulfill his end of the bargain and quickly shuffled off to become a living legend and, in a strange twist, to even become a marginal candidate for the Presidency of the United States.

Iconoclasts who are critical of the ornate production style that so often defines seventies rock will be glad to know that the best parts of these recordings tend to belong to Jim Fox while the studio-centric orchestral compositions tend to belong to Walsh. These three recordings are uncommon gems from a time when rock music was still innocent and untarnished. Like much of the music from the sixties and early seventies these albums serve as important signposts to an as yet unwritten history of how the Midwest often defined the central aspects of American popular music. Though certain members of The James Gang tend to be identified with a cocaine addled period of rock history they also represent a carefree period of exploration that is too often overlooked. A final note; Pete Townshend’s favorite American band was The James PHILIP SAUNDERS-ARRATIA....pop matters................

Largely remembered as a vehicle for guitarist Joe Walsh, few people realize that the James Gang was formed by drummer Jimmy Fox and that Walsh was only a second generation recruit.

Interested in earning some extra money, in 1966 drummer Fox convinced bassist Tom Kriss and guitarist Glenn Schwartz to join him in a cover band. Versatile musicians, the trio began playing local school dances and talent contests, before eventually moving on to local Cleveland area clubs. In early 1969, prior to being signed by ABC's Bluesway subsidiary, Schwartz left to join Pacific Gas and Electric (see separate entry). After auditioning a number of replacements, former Measles guitarist Joe Walsh was added to the lineup, generating widespread acclaim with his unique voice and heavily phased lead guitar.

Widespread publicity, including serving as an opening act for Jimi Hendrix (many fans though Walsh blew Hendrix away), led to a contract with Bluesway and the band's 1969 debut "Yer' Album". Produced by Bill Szymcyyk, the debut album featured a surprisingly tuneful collection of guitar powered hard rock. A mix of popular covers (an extended nine minute remake of the Yardbirds' "Lost Woman" and the Buffalo Springfield's "Bluebird") and originals ("I Don't Have the Time" and "Funk #48"), the album showcased Walsh's interesting nasal vocals (it frequently sounded like they were being electronically treated) and Walsh's stinging guitar runs. Propelled by an opening slot on The Who's 1969 American tour, the album proved a surprising success, eventually reaching #83. Following the collapse of Bluesway, ABC reissued the collection. (The album was originally released with a gatefold sleeve - gee, what's that plant Walsh's holding on the back cover?)......Bad Cat.............

JIM FOX -- drums, guitar, vocals, piano introduction 
TOM KRISS -- bass, good vibes, and cheek flute 
JOE WALSH -- guitars, keyboards and vocals, underwater piano 
Bert "Super Charts" De Coteaux -- string arrangements 
Jerry "Rags" Ragavoy -- piano (11) 
Bill Szymczyk -- organ, maracas, sound, engineer, photos 
Byron Goto -- cover design, photo collage 
Henry Epstein -- cover design 
Ladimer Jeric -- inside left cover art 
Gary Finn -- inside right cover art 

TUNING PART ONE (Jim Fox/Bert De Coteaux/Bill Szymczyk) 0:39 
TAKE A LOOK AROUND (Joe Walsh) 6:20 
FUNK #48 (Joe Walsh/Jim Fox/Tom Kriss) 2:47 
BLUEBIRD (Stephen Stills) 6:01 
LOST WOMAN (Chris Dreja/Jeff Beck/Keith Relf/James McCarthy/Paul Samwell-Smith) 9:06 
STONE RAP (Joe Walsh/Jim Fox/Tom Kriss/Bill Szymczyk) 0:59 
COLLAGE (Joe Walsh/Patrick Cullie) 4:03 
I DON'T HAVE THE TIME (Joe Walsh/Jim Fox) 2:50 
FRED (Joe Walsh) 4:11 
STOP (Jerry Ragavoy/Mort Schuman) 12:00

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..







Cassette Deck

Cassette Deck