Saturday, January 21, 2012

James Gang - Thirds

My old man had this on 8-track.

It was me that played the piss out of it until the tape broke.

No more James Gang Thirds until my mother in law bought it for me as a Christmas gift last year.

What can I say? I’m blessed.

The third and final studio album featuring Joe Walsh on vocals finds Cleveland, Ohio’s favorite sons bashing out the same groove-laden rock music as the previous two. And even if the band only managed the greatness of the opener “Walk Away,” then they still would be remembered fondly in the annals of rock’s greatest tunes.

It takes a left turn with the next track-“Yadig?”-an instrumental that still keeps a slow, jazzy groove complete with vibes and a Hammond B-3 organ before Walsh steps in with a tasty lead from his Les Paul.

You get the sense that the band is starting to peter out a bit with the inclusion of songs written by the other band members that weren’t named “Joe.” Bassist Dale Peters and drummer Jim Fox ain’t slouches with Peters whipping out some amazing bass work for Fox’s “Things I Could Be” and Jimmy returning the favor with a tack piano on Dale’s country-flavored “Dreamin’ In The Country.”

Side two starts with some swell Walsh guitar tones on “Midnight Man,” but it, like the rest of the side, begins showings some chinks in the James Gang armor-the result of constant touring as the band’s liner notes suggest.

James Gang would end their Walsh years with a more appropriate live record, one that more effectively captures the band’s epic grove and huge crunch than Thirds ends up providing.

The only other complaint is that they misspelled Evel Knievel’s name in the thank you section, which is-in reality-a laugh riot as it heaps nods to such people as Joe Garagiola, Monte Hall, and someone named “Emil Nitrate.”

This and “Walk Away” may be worth the price of admission alone.


Bandy Lou said...

Parallel album: CCR's Mardi Gras. The one where the leader and focal point of the band gets 'democratic' and lets the other guys write and sing.
You should review Barnstorm! I know you're a James Gang guy, but that album is really something--Joe comes into his own as a 'songwriter' rather than 'guitar hero'

Todd Totale said...

That's actually spot on. Nice catch! I almost went with Barnstorm a few months ago, but got Smoker You Get instead. I had no idea he was considering another power trio after James Gang, using the Barnstorm moniker. I'll catch up to it, eventually. Walsh can be so frustrating, particularly considering how good he was early in his career.