|2. Take a Look Around|
|3. Funk #48|
|5. Lost Woman|
|6. Stone Rap|
|8. I Don't Have the Time|
|9. Wrapcity in English|
If there is one era of Joe Walsh's musical career that is severely underrated, it would have to be his years with the James Gang. Before going solo or joining the Eagles, this is where Walsh did lead vocals. It's a shame that the James Gang tends to get little recognition outside their hits Walk Away and Funk #49, because this era features some of the best stuff that Walsh ever recorded. The Gang's debut LP, Yer Album, was released in 1969. Read on for my review of it.
This album captures the James Gang in their prime - before they went mainstream and focused on scoring hit singles. The band's sound stayed excellent from their formation right up to their final days, but it's their debut that captures the band in their finest hour. The band kicks things off with the ever-so-bizzare introduction. This song is strange in that it uses classical music excerpts! Weird stuff, but it sure is an attention-getter! A slower, more melodic track entitled Take A Look Around comes next. The fact that this song never became a big hit for the band is just insulting, because this is a damn fine song. Third up is Funk #48, not to be confused with the more popular Funk #49. This is an excellent jam that truly captures the band in their prime. No, it's not as popular as the similarly-titled track from a later album, but it's equally excellent. Bluebird is a cover of an old Buffalo Springfield, and an excellent one too. It's more electric than the original version, which was more on the acoustic side, but solid nonetheless. Walsh's vocals really shine here. The next track is Lost Woman. This is blues-based rock at its finest. Drummer Jim Fox even serves up a drum solo for your listening pleasure! Stone Rap is an interesting little transitional piece.Read more ›
But this is a solid album, well-played and very well remastered. This is remarkably dense for a trio, not overdone, but thick with good sound and good writing.
I have the first six James Gang LPs, and they never sounded this good again. Fresh, young, brash, strong but not pompous, and quite enjoyable. If you are a Walsh fan looking backward, this is a great addition. If you remember the Gang fondly, this holds up after 30+ years far better than the later stuff. The other albums were built around a "single" and fluffed up, though each has their joys. Not Yer Album. This has nothing but good stuff.
Fred is unique. I Don't Have The Time snaps and pops. And Bluebird is brilliant, listen to that bass. And some of Joe's best vocals. They noodled, but didn't lose me on that one. Just wish they hadn't been quite so indulgent on the 9+ minute tracks.