Jo Jo Gunne – Jumpin’ The Gunne (1973)

FrontCover1Jo Jo Gunne is an American rock band, formed in Los Angeles, California, United States, in 1971 by Jay Ferguson (keyboards, vocals and guitar) and Mark Andes (bass guitar and vocals) after they had left Spirit. The group’s name is derived from “Jo Jo Gunne”, a Chuck Berry song that peaked at #83 as a single in November 1958.

Ferguson and Andes, along with Mark’s brother Matt Andes (born February 6, 1949; guitar, vocals) and William “Curly” Smith (born January 31, 1952, Wolf Point, Montana; drums, vocals, and harp), were signed to Asylum Records. Jo Jo Gunne had a Number 6 hit in the UK Singles Chart with the song, “Run Run Run”, taken from their first album, Jo Jo Gunne (1972), which peaked at 27 in U.S. charts, and received airplay on U.S. album-oriented rock FM radio stations. The song reached number 30 in Canada.

The group did not maintain the commercial momentum of their first release. They broke up in 1975.

Following the first album, Mark Andes left the band after a falling out with his brother Matt and Ferguson and was replaced by Jimmie Randall. Randall introduced a brighter bass sound and helped increase the band’s overall volume.

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Matt Andes left after Jumpin’ the Gunne, and he was briefly replaced by Starr Donaldson (born September 23, 1950). A more permanent replacement was found in John Staehely (born 25 January 1952, Austin, Texas), who had played on Feedback, the Spirit album that followed Ferguson and Andes’s departure. Staehely’s overdriven guitar was a complete change from Matt Andes’s Ry Cooder style slide guitar.

After the band broke up, Ferguson recorded several solo albums, including the hit singles “Thunder Island” and “Shakedown Cruise”, and scored TV shows and mostly non-notable movies. Mark Andes next joined Firefall and, later, Heart. Smith went on to have a career as a session drummer, and also played with Spirit in the 1980s and Boston from 1994 to 2000.
Recordings

The band’s first album Jo Jo Gunne was released in 1972 and the first single “Run, Run, Run” became a top 40 hit with the album riding the charts to #57 on Billboard’s Top 100 Albums. Their second album Bite Down Hard was a minor success peaking on the Billboard Top 200 chart at #75.

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The fact that there was no breakout single failed to generate interest and sales for the band. The album was produced by Bill Szymczyk who was best known at the time for his production work on Joe Walsh’s Barnstorm and B.B. King’s Completely Well which featured the hit single “The Thrill Is Gone”.

The band’s third album Jumpin’ the Gunne failed to rise any higher than #169 on the Billboard Top 200 chart, due in large part to the album cover’s depiction of an obesely fat naked woman flying over the group in bed. The band’s fourth album, So…Where’s the Show?, featured new guitarist John Staehely. Staehely’s harder edged sound complemented Ferguson’s songs giving the band a much harder rock sound than on their previous efforts.

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The original line-up temporarily got back together around 1992. In a July 1995 interview in Vintage Guitar Magazine, Mark Andes recalls: “Curly Smith called me up and noted that it was the twentieth anniversary of when that band had formed; Steve Lukather took us into the studio and we recorded a lot of new material, but it didn’t go anywhere”.

They began recording again in 2005 in Santa Barbara at Jay Ferguson’s studio. The 2005 recordings were eventually put out as an album, Big Chain, on Blue Hand Records. The music was co-produced by the band and engineered by Ferguson. (wikipedia)

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And here´s theird 3rd album:

Jay Ferguson wrote all ten of the songs on Jumpin’ the Gunne, an album produced by Bill Szymczyk and the third disc by this offshoot of the group Spirit’s. By this time, Mark Andes was gone — he would join Firefall and later Heart — leaving his brother Matt Andes on guitar and Jay Ferguson on keyboards, lead vocals, and second guitar, and leaving them to their own devices. There is just something that doesn’t catch on here. “At the Spa” and “Monkey Music” both have their moments, but in these grooves there is none of the intensity of their first hit “Run Run Run” or Ferguson’s later signature tune, “Thunder Island,” which came during the middle of Firefall’s string of hits. “To the Island” isn’t “Thunder Island” by any stretch, while “Getaway” sounds a bit like a Doobie Brothers outtake. Jo Jo Gunne was a decent concert pairing opening for the Doobies after their Run Run Run debut LP.

Single

The sounds on “Couldn’t Love You Better” pretty much sum up this disc — nondescript album rock with an LP cover which is the most politically incorrect sight you can imagine. All four bandmembers are in a big brass bed staring at the ceiling where a large and flabby woman is floating through the room while a small pig looks up at her. On the inside cover the pig and the large woman are nose to nose, and the album credits are written on the woman the way you see cuts of beef written out on a drawing of a cow at a butcher shop. If this is supposed to be funny or hip, it isn’t, and the concept falls flatter than the music. The enigma of the offshoots of Spirit is in all its glory on Jumpin’ the Gunne, musicians who should have stayed with the original program. Three-fourths of this band would reunite with Randy California, Ed Cassidy, and Mark Andes for the live album, Spirit of ’84, and though everything is in tune enough here, and is perfectly recorded by Bill Szymczyk, there is just no material to speak of. This would have been a perfect time for the group to do an album of other people’s tunes. There’s energy, but without a hook and melody it dissipates into thin air. Which begs the question, what’s worse — an album like Portsmouth Sinfonia Plays the Classics, which is just awful, or an album of strong musicianship which is unlistenable? (by Joe Viglione)

Indeed, the artwork for this album is awful … but the music isn´t bad … good rock from this period  … listen to “Turn The Boy Loose”, “I Wanna Love You”, “Red Mead” or “High School Drool”.

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Personnel:
Matthew Andes (guitar, vocals)
Jay Ferguson (vocals, guitar, keyboards, steel drums)
Jimmie Randall (bass, vocals)
Curly Smith (drums, percussion, harmonica, vocals)

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Tracklist:
01. I Wanna Love You 3.51
02.To The Island 3.48
03. Red Meat 3.27
04. Getaway 3.31
05. Before You Get Your Breakfast 4.10
06. At The Spa 2.55
07. Monkey Music 3.23
08. Couldn’t Love You Better 3.00
09. High School Drool 3.36
10. Neon City 2.39
11. Turn The Boy Loose 4.28

All songs written by Jay Ferguson

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