Wednesday, 18 January 2017

"Bang/Miami" by JAMES GANG [featuring TOMMY BOLIN] (2014 Beat Goes On CD Reissue – 2LPs Remastered onto 1CD) - A Review by Mark Barry...


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"…Like No Other…"

I've had the superb Repertoire 1998 "Best Of" 2CD retrospective of THE JAMES GANG for years now in order to have tracks from the 3 guitar players with the band - Joe Walsh, Dominic Troiano and TOMMY BOLIN - but that set only provided the bare bones when it came to TB's illustrious stay. Well at last - this very cool reissue gives fans both of the TOMMY BOLIN albums - and is presented in the usual classy BGO way (card slipcase, great remasters). Here are the wild horses, babes in the stables and pelicans in the pool...

UK released October 2014 – "Bang/Miami" by JAMES GANG on Beat Goes On BGOCD 1172 (Barcode 5017261211729) offers 2LPs Remastered onto 1CD and breaks down as follows (71:09 minutes):

1. Standing In The Rain
2. The Devil is Singing Our Song
3. Must Be Love
4. Alexis
5. Ride The Wind
6. Got No Time For Trouble
7. Rather Be Alone With You (A.K.A. Song For Dale)
8. From Another Time
9. Mystery
Tracks 1 to 9 are the album "Bang" - released September 1973 in the USA on Atlantic SD 7037 and January 1974 in the UK on Atlantic K 50028

TOMMY BOLIN - Guitar & Synth - Backing Vocals on "Standing In The Rain"
ROY KENNER - Lead Vocals, Percussion and Back-Up Vocals - Except on "Alexis" - which has Tommy Bolin on Lead Vocals
DALE PETERS - Bass, Fuzz Bass, Percussion and Piano and backing Vocals on "Standing In The Rain"
JIM FOX - Drums, Percussion and Piano on "Mystery"

10. Cruisin'
11. Do It
12. Wildfire
13. Sleepwalker
14. Miami Two-Step
15. Praylude/Red Skies
16. Spanish Lover
17. Summer Breezes
18. Head Above The Water
Tracks 10 to 18 are the album "Miami" - released July 1974 in the USA on Atlantic SD 36-102 and August 1974 in the UK on Atlantic K 50068

TOMMY BOLIN - All Guitars & Lead Vocals on "Spanish Lover"
ROY KENNER - Lead & Backing Vocals
DALE PETERS - Bass, Fuzz Bass, Percussion and Piano and backing Vocals
JIM FOX - Drums, Percussion, Keyboards and Backing Vocals
ALBHY GALUTEN - Synthesizer on "Head Above The Water"

The 12-page booklet has liner notes by NEIL DANIELS - album credits, some photos and a brief history of the band - but the real news is a new 2014 remaster by ANDREW THOMPSON from tapes licenced from WEA. The short but simple way of putting it is that this CD rocks - muscle and clarity - it's all there (you could almost forgive the awful Atlantic artwork for both LPs).

"Bang" is dominated by the arrival of a huge talent - guitarist TOMMY BOLIN - aged only 22 at the time and personally recommended to the band by JOE WALSH. Iowa-born Bolin had cut his teeth with small American bands like Patch Of Blue, Zephyr (on Probe Records) and Energy before joining JAMES GANG (he would famously leave them too and move on to a short but brilliant stay with England's DEEP PURPLE).

It opens with the almost Montrose like "Standing in The Rain" and immediately the guitar leaps out at you. His fantastic slide playing comes Kossoff-like again on the slinky and menacing "The Devil Is Sing Our Song". "Must Be Love" brings up the boogie pace firmly into Foghat territory while Bolin takes lead vocals on "Alexis" - a number that starts out all acoustic pretty about a young girl in New Orleans but then towards the end launches into an electric guitar workout that is just stunning (reminds me of Craig Chaquico's blistering axework on "Ride The Tiger" - the opening track on Jefferson Starship's 1974 album "Dragonfly").

There was clearly a venture into top shelf Gregg Allman territory on the "Miami" opener "Cruisin' Down The Highway". It goes into chugging boogie with "Do It" and "Wildfire" where the band sounds not unlike an American version of Bad Company. I've always loved the beautiful keyboard "Praylude" lead in to "Red Skies" - reminds me of Joe Walsh on "Smoker" at his ambitious song-structure best (Bolin's delicate flicking up and down the strings as triangles tingle in the background is gorgeous). "Spanish Breeze" is an extraordinarily tender acoustic ballad ("her words were almost frightening...") - it has a loveliness and songwriting grace about it (co-written with Jeff Cook - lyrics above). "Summer Breezes" could have been a single and it ends on the plaintive "Head Above The Water".

"Maybe you'll get back on your feet again..." - Kenner sings on "Head Above The Water". Thomas Robert Bolin would be lost to us only two years after these albums were put out - he died aged only 26 in December 1976. At least this fantastic remaster celebrates his amazing sonic legacy with real style. Well done to all involved...

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