The James Gang "Yer' Album" (ABC Records 1969)
As far as debut albums go, this disc is one of the best of the best. The roots of the James Gang date back to 1966, and although the Cleveland, Ohio band encountered personnel changes throughout the years, "Yer Album" included Jim Fox on drums, Tom Kriss on bass, and Joe Walsh on vocals, guitar and keyboards. Loose and natural, the trio balanced improvisation with a melodic awareness, pointing towards an album packed with interesting and industrious impressions.
Marching drums and rollicking keyboards, shadowed by a dreamy psychedelic film, are the matter manning "Take A Look Around," which climaxes to a sweeping bluesy guitar solo, a rough and raggedy funk groove rattles forth on "Funk #48," and "I Don't Have The Time" ripples with crunchy rhythms and heated interplay. A druggy droning vibe, pricked with a jazzy bent, hovers over the engagingly odd "Fred," an innovative intersection of slick orchestration and catchy rock arrangements season "Collage," and "Stop" begins life as a southern fried hippy shuffle before turning into a juicy jam featuring Joe Walsh's mother tickling some mean ivories. The band's influences are admirably acknowledged on a cover of Buffalo Springfield's acid folk styled "Bluebird," where the Yardbirds are given a serious run for their money on a mega-powerful take of "Lost Woman" that showcases the member's individual talents to hair-raising effects.
Fronted by Joe Walsh's reedy larynx that sounded like a curious pairing of Roger McGuinn and Sky Saxon, the James Gang possessed a canon of brilliant ideas and were able to convey such notions in a fascinating format. The band clearly had their pulse on a variety of musical shades and colors, but there's little argument hard and heavy rock was their calling card. Ablaze with raw energy and mobility, "Yer Album" reins in as a righteous reflection of the James Gang's strengths. Come 1971, Joe Walsh, departed the band and went onto attain worldwide fame with Barnstorm, a solo career, and the Eagles, and is still slaying the crowds today with his amazing guitar prowess and cool tunes.
Review made by Beverly Paterson/2014
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