James Gang – The Bomber

Great album cut by The James Gang. Val brought this one to my attention a few weeks ago and I’ve been listening ever since.

Bill Szymczyk produced the second album for the James Gang called Rides Again which was released in 1970.

A big space was filled with “The Bomber,” which took up more than seven minutes of Rides Again‘s 35-minute running time, and ended up spawning a couple of classic James Gang stories in the process…while triggering a decades-long copyright battle and paving the way for the invention of industry-standard speakers in the bargain.

The Record Plant had just installed new expensive monitors, and Bill Szymczyk was the first guy to use them, which was a real mistake. During playback of “The Bomber” the speaker just physically blew out of the wall.

Bill Szymczyk: “We blew eight of those speakers up,” “The next day, [Record Plant co-founder] Gary Kellgren went to his maintenance guy, his head tech, who was Tom Hidley, and he said to Tom, ‘Make me a monitor that Szymczyk can’t blow up!’ That was the birth of the Hidley monitor, which is in hundreds of studios around the world at this point.”

“The Bomber” also included a passage from Ravel’s “Boléro,” which ended up costing the James Gang a fair bit of legal drama. “Ravel was French, and French copyright law and French law, in general, is insane. The French copyright, Ravel’s heirs and Ravel’s estate stipulated in the French copyright law that the piece had to be played in its entirety, top to bottom,” recalls Walsh. “You could never play little parts of it. And it had to be played by the full orchestra that it was written for. Well, we didn’t know that!”

The band was forced to remove the Boléro part but it was restored when the CD was released.

The Bomber

When I became of age my mama sat me down
Said “Son, you’re growin’ up, it’s time you looked around”
So I began to notice some things I hadn’t seen before
That’s what brought me here knockin’ on your back door
Oh, yeah

A closet queen, the busstop’s dream, she 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 on my ranches
Oh, yeah

It’s too strong, something’s wrong and I guess I lost the feelin’
I don’t mind the games you play, but I don’t like your dealin’
God looked bad, the luck’s been had and there’s nothin’ left to smoke
Will I be back tomorrow for the punchline of the joke?

Author: badfinger20 (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

22 thoughts on “James Gang – The Bomber”

  1. James Gang Rides Again, went Gold and spawned the rock gem ‘Funk #49’, which reached #59 on the Hot 100. The song later became one of rock’s most instantly identifiable tracks, and also established Walsh’s talent for penning exceptional guitar riffs.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I had a radio station copy of “Rides Again” that had the full “Bomber,” complete with “Bolero” excerpt. A friend went nuts when he heard it and ran out and bought the album. Unfortunately, by then the legal battle had happened, and they had cut the section that had “Bolero” out. No attempt at re-recording; it was as if they had cut the tape and spliced it together. Really sounded crappy. I let him borrow my album and tape “The Bomber” because he was carrying on so much about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I only knew their hits for a while but I do like their stuff. Great band all the way around.
      It’s interesting hearing real life stories about this stuff. I couldn’t believe that they made that you play the whole selection or nothing.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My problem lies with Glenn and Don. You almost can split them up into two bands. PJ…Pre Joe and AJ after Joe. I do like some of their stuff until 75 or so.
        What is odd…is I love Joe Walsh and his playing.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Probably my favorite…is the Randy Meisner “Take It To the Limit”…his voice was incredible on that one….I also like some of their California country sounding songs with Bernie Leadon on guitar.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Those crazy French! lol.
    Love most of their hits but never dove into listening to a full album. Walsh is so talented, but he’s such a friggin’ weirdo. Had a friend who dated him in the 80s. She told me all kinds of stories.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What’s rarely mentioned is it also has a bit of ‘Cast Your Fate to the Wind’ in it (the slow bit not all that far into the song). That was originally recorded in the early 196os and predates The Bomber. You’ll find info on Wikipedia about Cast your fate, and if you listen to the Orchestral Sounds version, you’ll be able to hear it…

    Thanks for the mention. Sorry I’ve not been reading blogs for a while.

    Liked by 1 person

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