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Saturday, 5 March 2016
"Rides Again" by JAMES GANG [featuring JOE WALSH] (2009 Japan-Only Geffen/Universal SHM CD Repro Reissue) - A Review by Mark Barry...
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"…Ashes, The Rain And I…"
as dishwater cover artwork or not - I've loved this frigging album for over 40
years now - and this gorgeous Japanese reissue has only brought that passion to
a boil yet again. I wouldn't mind if it was anything new (it isn't). It's
simply the remaster done by TED JENSEN in the States in 2000 slapped onto a new
format and buffed up with repro artwork and an audiophile price tag - but I
can't help myself. This dinky looking SHM-CD sits on my bulging shelf at home
(I'm glad something's bulging in this house) along with the other Joe Walsh
solo albums that followed his departure from THE JAMES GANG (also on SHM-CD).
And I love them all to bits. I've always thought The James Gang were a bit
special and I wouldn't be alone in this. Here are the bomber Medleys, Asshton
Park Women and the Funk that numbers 49...
22 April 2009 in Japan-Only on a SHM-CD in 5” Mini LP Repro Artwork -"Rides
Again" by JAMES GANG on Geffen/Universal UICY-94059 (Barcode
4988005555083) breaks down as follows (35:13 minutes):
Funk No. 49
The Bomber (a) Closet Queen (b) Bolero (c) Cast Your Fate To The Wind
Tend My Garden [Side 2]
There I Go Again
Ashes, The Rain And I
1 to 9 are the album "Rides Again" - released July 1970 in the USA on
ABC Records S-711 and October 1970 in the UK on Probe Records SPBA 6253. Both
countries sported a gatefold sleeve - this 5" repro artwork facsimiles the
first pressing of the American vinyl LP with the colour painting of the band on
the inner gatefold (and the "Bolero" credit in "The
Bomber"). There's a 20-page booklet that has lyrics, some text in Japanese
and little else. This is pretty much par for the course for these Japanese
WALSH - Guitars, Keyboards and Lead Vocals
"BUGSLEY" PETERS - Bass and 6-String Guitar on "Ashes, Rain And
FOX - Drums and Percussion
tracks on the album are written by Joe Walsh except "Funk No. 49"
which is a co-write between Walsh, Fox and Peters, "Closet Queen"
within "The Bomber" is also a band co-write - while the final track
"Ashes, The Rain And I" is a Joe Walsh/Dale Peters composition.
SHM-CD format (Super High Materials) does not require a specific machine to
play them on - they're simply a better form of disc created by JVC in 2008 to
improve on the original CD format (unchanged since it was first put out 30
years ago). The general idea is that the sound on the SHM-CD is more defined
and to my ears they do seem to extract more nuances from the transfer.
produced by BILL SZYMCZYK - the album's sound was supposed to be loud and in
your face (as per the liner notes) - and it is on monsters like the stunning
"Funk No. 49" and "The Bomber". But I've always found it to
be so sweetly delicate too on softer tracks like "There I Go Again"
(Pedal Steel played by RUSTY YOUNG of POCO) and the gorgeous "Tend My
Garden". Speaking of "The Bomber" - fans will know that after
initial pressings of the album the 3-part song was reduced down to 2-parts on
subsequent pressings - losing the centre "Bolero" piece. So "The
Bomber" went from 7:05 minutes to roughly 5:40 minutes. As this disc apes
the American 2000 remaster - what you get is pressing No. 1 with the full 7:05
minute version. It's a shame someone didn't take the time to add on the 2-part
edit as a bonus track - but if you want that version it's on the 1998
Repertoire 2CD set "The Best Of" on Repertoire REP 4671-WR (Barcode
4009910467121). Back to the three-part version we have - Walsh cleverly mixes
in Ravel's classical "Bolero" and Vincent Guaraldi's jazz piece
"Cast Your Fate To The Wind" into his own rock song so you get a
seven-minute guitar pyrotechnics fest that ends Side One of the LP.
2 is perfect to me - the near six-minute "Tend My Garden" segues into
the two-minute bluesy acoustic ditty that is "Garden Gate" - gorgeous
playing and it sounds wonderful on this CD. "Thanks" is lovely too
but the album's undeniable second masterpiece is the finisher "Ashes, The
Rain And I" - an acoustic song laden with fabulous string arrangements by
JACK NITZSCHE. It sends me every time I hear and I've ended many's a 70's FEST
CD compilation with it.
- you could argue that it's simpler to buy the 2000 CD for less than a fiver
and be done with it - and if you want the cheaper option (still with great
sound) - then that's the way to go. But as a fan - if I think I can get a few
more nanoseconds of sonic greatness out of this sucker - then I'm gonna be the
financial sucker and buy that dinky Japanese repro with its new-fangled format
thingy. I have both versions - but I must confess that I play the SHM every
time because of that extra detail and warmth.
James Gang would enlist ace guitarists Dominic Troiano and Tommy Bolin for
their next lot of LPs and start another chapter. But this - "Yer
Album" and "Thirds" (all with Walsh) have always tickled my
funny bone. Fantastic stuff and worth the few extra quid...
This review is part of my SOUNDS GOOD Music Book Series. One of those titles is CLASSIC 1970s ROCK - an E-Book with over 250 entries and 2100 e-Pages - purchase on Amazon and search any artist or song (click the link below). Huge amounts of info taken directly from the discs (no cut and paste crap).