James Gang – Rides Again (1971)

FrontCover1James Gang Rides Again (alternatively known as simply Rides Again) is the second studio album by American rock band James Gang. The album was released in mid 1970, on the label ABC Records. It is the James Gang’s first album to feature bassist Dale Peters.

Writing for AllMusic, critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine wrote of the album “With their second album Rides Again, the James Gang came into their own… Walsh’s songwriting had improved, giving the band solid support for their stylistic experiments. What ties the two sides of the record together is the strength of the band’s musicianship, which burns brightly and powerfully on the hardest rockers, as well as on the sensitive ballads.”

JamesGang01On the initial pressings of James Gang Rides Again, a 1:25 electric rendition of Maurice Ravel’s “Boléro” is interpolated into the song “The Bomber.” Ravel’s estate threatened suit against both the James Gang and ABC Records for its unauthorized use. As a result, the track was edited, and the “Boléro” section was removed on most subsequent pressings of the album. The edited song’s running time on such pressings is 5:39. Some late 70’s LP pressings included “Boléro” by mistake, and the most recent CD re-issue of Rides Again contains the full version of “The Bomber,” with the “Boléro” section restored. (by wikipedia)

With their second album Rides Again, the James Gang came into their own. Under the direction of guitarist Joe Walsh, the group — now featuring bassist Dale Peters — began incorporating keyboards into their hard rock, which helped open up their musical horizons. For much of the first side of Rides Again, the group tear through a bunch of boogie numbers, most notably the heavy groove of “Funk #49.” On the second side, the James Gang departs from their trademark sound, adding keyboard flourishes and JamesGang02elements of country-rock to their hard rock. Walsh’s songwriting had improved, giving the band solid support for their stylistic experiments. What ties the two sides of the record together is the strength of the band’s musicianship, which burns brightly and powerfully on the hardest rockers, as well as on the sensitive ballads. (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)

Led by future Eagle Joe Walsh, the James Gang establishes a power-trio template for all times on it’s 1970 sophomore album. Home to the top-down favorite ‘Funk #49,’ Rides Again sparks with a stylistic versatility, hard-rocking edge, and balladic vulnerability united by tight-knit musicianship. The quartet’s penchant for crunch-laden boogies and focused jamming pours out on the first half of the record before the band pulls it’s trick bag out on the second half and injects keyboards into the stylistically varied mix. From start to finish, Rides Again is a 70s rock classic – and, now, one that at last features first-rate sonics to match the music.

JamesGang03The FM radio staple ‘Funk #49’ – kick-started by the irresistible declaration ‘I sleep all day, out all night/I know where you’re goin’ – continues to be identified by many as a Walsh solo tune. Yet it, as well as the sexual thrust of the head-bobbing ‘Woman’ and proto-metal slash of the multi-part ‘The Bomber,’ fully represents the pure chemistry and locomotive momentum of the James Gang. With Walsh’s Echoplex-equipped slide guitar making psychedelic- and blues-leaning comments, his mates pick up on the direction and answer with melodic responses. Throughout the record, the trio’s synergy clicks at every turn. Such interplay extends to the more diverse, country-tinged fare on Side B. Streaked with throaty organ passages and reflective moods, sincere midtempo ballads like ‘Tend My Garden’ tease with rave-up structures and express a softer side of the group. Similarly, the acoustic-based ‘Garden Gate’ and Jack Nitzsche-orchestrated ‘Ashes the Rain and I’ showcase sincerity and diversity suggesting the James Gang prepared to defy limitations afforded most of it’s peers. Yet Walsh’s departure in 1971 changed the group’s fortunes – and, by extension, upped the value of Rides Again, which survives as a near-flawless example of earnest 70s rock and organic playing. Experience this stellar album …

Listen to “Tend My Garden” and you´ll hear a guitar … years later a group called “Boston” made this sound very popular …

And … “The Bomber” is one of the most exciting hard rock songs ever recorded ! The song is a monster James Gang combines heavy metal guitar riffs with Ravels “Bolero” … Listen and enejoy !

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Personnel:
Jim Fox (drums, vocals, percussion, keyboards)
Dale Peters (bass, vocals, guitar, keyboards, percussion)
Joe Walsh (guitar, vocals, keyboards, percussion)
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Rusty Young (pedal steel guitar on 07.)

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Tracklist:
01. Funk #49 (Fox/Peters/Walsh) 3.56
02. Asshtonpark (Fox/Peters/Walsh) 2.02
03. Woman (Fox/Peters/Walsh) 4.38
04. The Bomber: Closet Queen/Boléro/ Cast Your Fate To The Wind (Fox/Peters/Wals/Ravel/Guaraldi) 7.05
05. Tend My Garden (Walsh) 5.40
06. Garden Gate (Walsh) 1.42
07. There I Go Again (Walsh) 2.50
08. Thanks (Walsh) 2.20
09. Ashes The Rain And I (Peters/Walsh) 4.59

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“The Bomber (Closet Queen / Bolero / Cast Your Fate To The Wind)”:

When I became of age, my mama sat me down
She said, “Son, you’re growing up, it’s time you looked around.”
So I began to notice some things I’ve never seen before
That’s what brought me here knockin’ at your back door
Oh, yeah

A closet queen, a bus stop fiend
It wants to shake my hand.
I don’t want to be there, she decides she can
It’s Apple Dan, he’s just the man to pick fruit off your branches
I can’t sleep and we can’t keep this cattle off our ranches
Oh, oh… yeah

[Instrumental Bridge – Bolero – Cast Your Fate To The Wind]

It’s too strong, something’s wrong, I guess I lost the feeling
I don’t mind the games you play, but I don’t like you dealing
The cards looked bad, the luck’s been had and there’s nothing left to smoke
We’ll all be back tomorrow for the punchline of the joke

Oh, Oh… Oh, Oh…

 

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James Gang – Live In Concert (1971)

frontcover1Live in Concert is a live album by the James Gang, released in September 1971. It contains highlights of performances at Carnegie Hall, New York City. This album is the last James Gang release to feature Joe Walsh as guitarist and vocalist and Bill Szymczyk as producer and engineer.

lewine wrote the album “Live in Concert captures much of the energy of their live performances, with Joe Walsh’s guitar solos catching fire on nearly every song. However, the record also makes it clear that he was beginning to outgrow the confines of the James Gang…” (by wikipedia)
Amazing that only three musicians could make music that sounds this good and this full. Honestly, where were they hiding that fourth member?! Actually, that’s the amazing Joe Walsh doubling up on guitar AND keyboards. Man, he’s even more talented than I had thought. Plus, you have those distinctive vocals of his. The total package. I have to admit that I’ve been a fan of Joe Walsh and The James Gang for many, many years, but until earlier this year I had never thought to listen to this outstanding live album. Why didn’t anyone tell me!?  This rocks and rolls and kicks and wails from start to finish. As another reviewer asked; where is the expanded version of this concert? There certainly HAS to be more in vaults where this splendid set came from. (Donald E. Gilliland)

Be sure: the complete show will be a part of this blog … very soon …  !

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Personnel:
Jim Fox (drums, vocals, percussion, guitar)
Dale Peters (bass, vocals, percussion)
Joe Walsh (vocals, guitar, organ)

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Tracklist:
01. Stop (Ragovoy/Shuman) 4.05
02. You’re Gonna Need Me (King) 7.30
03. Take A Look Around (Walsh) 3.50
04. Tend My Garden (Walsh) 3.45
05. Ashes, The Rain And I (Peters/Walsh) 2.40
06. Walk Away (Walsh) 3.30
07. Lost Woman (Beck/Dreja/McCarty/Relf/Samwell-Smith) 18.20

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