Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

1976 – Part 5.1: James Gang – Jesse Come Home

It’s the last studio album by James Gang, released in 1976. Joe Walsh was 5 years into his Eagles slot and the band had continued on with a variety of line-up changes.

Their first album in 1969 was recorded as a power trio consisting of Joe Walsh (guitars, lead vocals), Tom Kriss (bass), and Jim Fox (drums). One of my favourite guitarists Tommy Bolin recorded two albums with the Gang called “Bang!” (released in 1973) and “Miami” (released in 1974) before he accepted the Deep Purple offer.

Only drummer Jim Fox remains. This album is the only one recorded with lead guitarist Bob Webb and keyboardist Phil Giallombardo. Giallombardo was in the Gang’s first ever line up with Fox, however he had left prior to the recording of their first album.

The cover features an atmospheric painting of the folk hero riding off into the sunset, an image which fans had identified as evidence that the band had known this album to be its last.

The players on this album are Bob Webb on guitars and lead vocals on three tracks, Phil Giallombardo on keyboards and lead vocals on the other 6 tracks, Dale Peters on bass guitar and Jim Fox on drums.

I Need Love

Written by keyboardist and co-vocalist Phil Giallombardo.

A simple syncopated bass and kick drum groove starts off the song. It’s almost funky but I feel like its hard rock.

The vocal melodies are overused.

Some of the critics said that the playing is uninspired but these guys can play and groove as evidenced here.

Another Year

Written by guitarist and co-vocalist Bob Webb. It’s a typical 70’s cut, with a dreamy acoustic guitar shimmering with some emotive leads that remind me of “While My Guitar Gently Sleeps”.

Feelin’ Alright

Written by the band, it’s also the most streamed track at 196,915 streams on Spotify. Press play to hear the lead break.

Peasant Song

Written by Phil Giallombardo, it’s a piano ballad with strings and this song feels like a bad Hollywood movie soundtrack, and it doesn’t connect at all.

Hollywood Dream

Written by Bob Webb and I like the rhythm and groove of the blues. It’s almost metal and its forgotten at 46,590 streams on Spotify.

Love Hurts

Written by Andrew Gold who was an American multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, and record producer. He played on a lot of albums from other artists and wrote songs for artists as well. He died in 2011 at age 59 from heart failure.

It’s is an overused title.

The piano is back again, so far removed from the funk and blues of what the band was known for.

It’s a skip for me.

Pick Up The Pizzas

An instrumental track written by Bob Webb. A terrible title for one of the best riffs on the album. Press play and enjoy another forgotten track.

Stealin’ The Show

When Bob Webb writes a track there is guitar on it. On this one the acoustic guitar is back and Bad Company comes to mind.

When I Was A Sailor

The closer, at 6 plus minutes long and written by keyboardist Phil Giallombardo. This song is more Styx than James Gang.

The album is forgotten, with most songs being streamed less than 50,000 times. Especially when you compare those numbers to the Joe Walsh penned tunes like “Funk #49” with 47.382 million streams on Spotify and “Walk Away” with 29.297 million streams.

In the end, this album is just a bunch of musicians who wanted a record deal. Unfortunately for them, it was under the name of James Gang, which would always be known as Joe Walsh’s band, even though he wasn’t a founder. But the label still saw value in the project, however they also pulled the plug on it after the album stiffed.

Standard
Music

Teaser

Teaser

I first heard Teaser when Motley Crue covered it for the Stairway to Heaven/Highway To Hell  compilation album for the Moscow Peace Festival.  This was back in 1989, and I saw the writer was a T.Bolin.  Pre Internet era, meant I had to go to the record shop (which in my case was Rings Music World) and ask them if they have anything on T.Bolin?

The lady knew me well  as I was a chronic asker of music that she never had in stock and she knew very well, that she was going to spend time looking through massive folders from different distributers.

Lo and behold, she told me that she can import it in and it was going to cost $40 to get it in on LP.  I said import in.  Think about that for a second.  I spent $40 on an album that I only one song on it.  That is the power of music and the need to have that one song.  And it was the last song on Side A.  It was written by Tommy Bolin and Jeff Cook who was in the band American Standard and Energy  with Bolin in the late sixties.

The first thing that grabs you is that funky sleazy riff and the wolf whistle slide guitar.

That woman’s got a smile
Puts you in a trance
And just one look at her
Makes you wanna dance
Those dark and those red ruby lips
Only a fool would pass them by
With just a hint of ruthlessness
Sparklin’ in her eye

After hearing that first verse I was reminded how similar Bon Jovi got to it with You Give Love A Bad Name.   And then the chorus comes in.

She’s a teaser and she’s got no heart at all
She’s a teaser and she’ll tempt you ’till you fall.
Yeah she’ll tempt ya ’till ya fall.

Who hasn’t come across a woman like that?

She sips gin from a teacup, wears those fancy clothes
And somebody always knows her no matter where she goes
She’ll talk to you in riddles that have no sense or rhyme
And if you ask her what she means, says she don’t got no time

The second verse reminds me of T-Rex’s Get It On,

Well you’re dirty and sweet
Clad in black, don’t look back and I love you
You’re dirty and sweet, oh yeah
Well you dance when you walk
So let’s dance, take a chance, understand me
You’re dirty sweet and you’re my girl

Then the solo breakdown section kicks in where it’s just the bass and drums simulating an excited heartbeat at the beginning and it moves into a free form jazz fusion lead break.  Jeff Porcaro from Steely Dan and Toto fame played drums and Stanley Sheldon from Peter Frampton’s band played bass.

As I listened to the album over and over again, I found other gems in the instrumental Homeward Strut, with its James Gang Funk inspired verses and its unbelievable harmony lick that acts as a Chorus.

The piano ballad Dreamer with Glen Hughes singing the last verse (even though he is uncredited) and piano played by David Foster, the same David Foster that would go on to produce and compose songs for Whitney Houston, Michael Buble and many others.

You have the blues funk of Savannah Woman with Phil Collins even providing percussion.

Side 2 doesn’t have the same impact as Side 1.  People People is lacklustre, while Marching Powder is a jazz fusion instrumental, reminiscent of Return to Forever. Wild Dogs is so so, but the closer Lotus makes up for it with its fusion of hard rock, blues, jazz, funk  and synth orientated pop.

Similar in structure to Teaser, it has that unbelievable breakdown solo section, which closes the album.

In 1975, he released Teaser and Come Taste the Band with Deep Purple, and in 1976 he released Private Eyes in September.  By December he was dead.  His music forever lives.

Standard