Classic Rock Sunday: The James Gang

In Classic Rock Sunday by Tanzi1 Comment

The James Gang was formed in 1967, enjoying moderate success around their hometown of Cleveland but it wasn’t until their original guitarist quit and Joe Walsh signed on that they really began to hit their stride. Their first album together was Yer’ Album, released in 1969. Despite some strong tracks the album was mostly a hint of the potential the band held. Probably the strongest track is Funk #48, a good jam in it’s own right but with the benefit of hindsight it sounds like an off-kilter version of the much more popular Funk #49:

Funk #48:

Funk #49:

Funk #49 was off the band’s second (and best) album, Rides Again. Although not a huge chart success the album got a lot of airplay and expectations were riding high for the next album. There was tension in the band however, as Walsh’s guitar and songwriting skills were far above the rest of the band and he began to look for a solo career. The next album, 1971’s Thirds, was a bit uneven due to all the strife but it finally netted the band a Top 40 hit, the boogie rock classic Walk Away:

Walsh left the band soon after, leading to a revolving door at the guitar slot. The most notable was probably Tommy Bolin, a young guitar player from Iowa who recorded two albums with the band before moving on to Deep Purple and a fatal heroin overdose shortly thereafter. The James Gang’s post-Walsh output is pretty much forgotten these days but it’s prefectly serviceable rock, very much of it’s time in the best possible way. Here’s Cruisin’ Down the Highway, with Tommy Bolin on guitar:

Tommy Bolin even found time to release some solo material in between bands and drug binges. Here’s his classic Post Toastees:

And whatever happened to Joe Walsh after he left the Gang? He had some classic solo hits of his own and later joined The Eagles. As a solo artist he was able to indulge his self deprecating sense of humor in classics like Life’s Been Good and Ordinary Average Guy and of course the vocoder classic Rocky Mountain Way:

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