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?

James Gang – Walk Away

I’ve always liked the edge of the James Gang. I like the rawness they had and wish they would have stayed together longer. This song and Midnight Man

The James Gang released the album Thirds in 1971  which yielded this song their highest-charting single, “Walk Away.” It peaked at #51 in the Billboard 100. The band released live album James Gang Live In Concert in 1971. Walsh left the group in 1971 to form his own group Barnstorm. He then later joined The Eagles and made Hotel California.

The James Gang had many changes through the years after Walsh left including bringing in Tommy Bolin but the lineup they are remembered for the most is Joe Walsh, Jim Fox, and Dale Peters.

The classic James Gang lineup — Walsh (Guitarist), Peters (Bass Player), and Fox (Drums) got together again for the first time to perform for then-president Bill Clinton’s election rally in late 1996. The group also made appearances on The Drew Carey show during the late 1990s and performed at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio in February 2001.

The classic James Gang trio also toured across the country in the summer of 2006, where they were supported by backing vocalists and musicians.

Walk Away

Taking my time
Choosin’ my line
Tryin’ to decide what to do
Looks like my stop
Don’t wanna get off
Got myself hung up on youSeems to me
You don’t want to talk about it
Seems to me
You just turn your pretty head and walk awayPlaces I’ve known
Things that I’m growin’
Don’t taste the same without you
I got myself in
The worst mess I’ve been
And I find myself startin’ ta doubt you

Seems to me
Talk all night, here comes the mornin’
Seems to me
You just forget what we said
And greet the day

Seems to me
You don’t wanna talk about it
Seems to me
You just turn your pretty head and walk away

I’ve got ta cool myself down
Stompin’ around
Thinkin’ some words I can’t name ya
Meet ya half way
Got nothin’ to say
Still I don’t s’pose I can blame ya

Seems to me
You don’t want to talk about it
Seems to me
You just turn your pretty head and walk away

Walk away

 

 

The James Gang – Funk #49

This song has been played a bunch on the radio but Joe Walsh’s intro doesn’t get old to me. The song peaked at #59 in the Billboard 100 in 1971.

The James Gang is best known for their guitarist, Joe Walsh, whose playing on this track helped establish him as a superstar guitarist. Walsh joined the Cleveland-based group in 1969 after making a name for himself as one of the top guitarists in Ohio. He replaced Glenn Schwartz in the band, who Walsh considers a mentor. They were a 5-piece when Walsh joined but was down to three when they released their second album James Gang Rides Again.

 

From Songfacts

With just three members, it meant Walsh had to play both rhythm and lead guitar parts, and also sing (he got a lot more help when he joined the Eagles in 1975). It was quite a learning experience for Walsh, who left the James Gang in 1971 after recording three studio albums with the group.

It was the producer Bill Szymczyk who signed the James Gang to ABC Records after seeing them perform at a show in Ohio. Szymczyk produced the band and began a long association with Joe Walsh, producing his solo albums and most of the Eagles output in the ’70s.

Walsh wrote this song with his bandmates, drummer Jim Fox and bass player Dale Peters. The song is about a girlfriend whose wild ways the singer just can’t tame (the female equivalent of Joe Walsh’s character in his solo hit “Life’s Been Good”). There isn’t much in the way of lyrics, as the song is mostly a showcase for Walsh’s guitar work. He explained in the book The Guitar Greats, “I came up with the basic guitar lick, and the words never really impressed me intellectually, but they seemed to fit somehow. It was a really good example of how we put things together, bearing in mind that it was a three-piece group, and I don’t think that there was any overdubbing. The only thing we really added was the percussion middle part, which the three of us actually played, putting some parts on top of the drums, but that’s the three-piece James Gang, and that’s the energy and kind of the symmetry we were all about.”

The first James Gang album (Yer’ Album, 1969) contained the track “Funk #48,” which according to producer Bill Szymczyk, got its title “out of thin air.” When they came up with what would become “Funk #49,” they were once again faced with no logical title based on the lyrics, and followed the sequence. There was a “Funk 50,” but not until Joe Walsh released it on his 2012 album Analog Man after being asked to rework “Funk #49” for the ESPN show Sunday NFL Countdown.

“Funk #49” became a staple of Album Oriented Rock and Classic Rock radio, but it wasn’t the biggest chart hit for the James Gang – that would be “Walk Away,” which made #51 in 1971 and was later reworked for Walsh’s 1976 solo album You Can’t Argue with a Sick Mind. “Funk #49” is one of Joe Walsh’s most popular songs, and by the mid-’70s he admitted that he couldn’t stand playing it anymore, but did so because fans loved it.

Funk #49

Uh, sleep all day, out all night,
I know where you’re going.
I don’t that’s a-acting right,
You don’t think it’s showing.
A-jumpin’ up, fallin’ down,
Don’t misunderstand me.
You don’t think that I know your plan,
What you try’n to hand me?

Out all night, sleep all day,
I know what you’re doing.
If you’re gonna a-act that way,
Think there’s trouble brewing.

 

The James Gang – Midnight Man

This is a beautiful song by The James Gang. It Peaked at #80 in 1971. The song is from their album “Thirds.”

Joe Walsh sang with Mary Sterpka and if you have never heard it…it is worth a listen.

This is from Allmusic.

One of the band’s own personal favorites, “Midnight Man” was easily one of the highlights of the Thirds album, the group’s last with guitarist Joe Walsh. A simple and slightly sentimental ballad, the song is an excellent example of Walsh’s overall charm and style. Ostensibly about a clandestine affair, there is a strong and sweet atmosphere here, which is highlighted by guest vocalist Mary Sterpka’s lovely harmonies. A strong Buffalo Springfield/Poco-inspired, country-rock feel highlights this tune, which is a cult favorite of James Gang fans, and for good reason.

 

 

Midnight Man

I’m the midnight man
I do what I can
To make sure that I am
The midnight man
Midnight man’s on time
Everything is fine
All the words in rhyme
With everything[solo]Midnight man, you’re pretty
Midnight man, you’re fine
Midnight man, be careful
Midnight man
Midnight man, be mine