Friday, 14 August 2015

"Jo Jo Gunne/Bite Down Hard/Jumpin' The Gunne/So...Where's The Show?" by JO JO GUNNE [featuring Jay Ferguson and Mark Andes] (2011 Edsel/Rhino Reissue - 4 LPs onto 2CDs) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...Shake That Fat..."

Featuring Guitarist Jay Ferguson and Bassist Mark Andes of SPIRIT and taking their name from a Chuck Berry song on his 1959 Chess LP "Berry Is On Top"  - California's JO JO GUNNE blasted their way into Rock hearts around the world in the spring of 1972 with their stunning debut 45 on Asylum Records - "Run Run Run". The single hit No. 27 Stateside but rose to an impressive No. 6 in the UK in March 1972. And their self-titled debut album in its tasty gatefold sleeve complete with its swagger of good time Rock and Rock 'n' Roll has remained a firm fan fave ever since.

Asylum then released three further albums across the next few years that barely scraped the top 200 in the USA and all tanked in the UK (as did the second 45 “Shake That Fat”). Worse - the band seemed in many people’s eyes to get worse as the LPs went along - to a point where no one these days remembers the 1974 album “So...Where The Show?” nor cares. But that’s not to say there isn’t JO JO GUNNE worth getting onto your stereo. And that’s where this rather cool little British double CD set on Edsel comes in...

Using their longstanding relationship with Rhino of the USA (who had the WEA contract for the whole of the reissuing 90’s and into the 00’s) – Edsel have licensed that material and have done a fabulous job clunking together the whole JO JO GUNNE output onto this loaded 2CD reissue. And best of all it retains that wonderful Rhino remastered sound that was first achieved by long-time Audio heroes BILL INGLOT and DAN HERSCH back in the 00’s (two of Rhino’s top Engineers). Here are the Shake That Fat details...

UK released January 2012 - "Jo Jo Gunne/Bite Down Hard/Jumpin' The Gun/So...Where's The Show?" by JO JO GUNNE on Edsel EDSD 2114 (Barcode 740155211431) has 4 albums onto 2CDs and breaks down as follows:

Disc 1 (69:44 minutes):
1. Run Run Run
2. Shake That Fat
3. Babylon
4. I Make Love
5. Barstow Blue Eyes
6. 99 Days [Side 2]
7. Academy Award
8. Take It Easy
9. Flying Home
Tracks 1 to 9 are their debut LP "Jo Jo Gunne" – released February 1972 in the USA on Asylum Records SD 5053 and April 1972 in the UK on Asylum SYLA 8752.

The album produced two 45s:
Run Run Run b/w Take It Easy
March 1972 USA 7” single on Asylum AS-11003
March 1972 UK 7” single on Asylum AYM 501 with "Shake That Fat" as the B-side

Shake That Fat b/w I Make Love
September 1972 USA 7” single on Asylum AS-11007
September 1972 UK 7” single on Asylum AYM 507

10. Ready Freddy
11. Roll Over Me
12. 60 Minutes To Go
13. Rock Around The Symbol
14. Broken Down Man
15. Special Situations [Side 2]
16. Take Me Down Easy
17. Wait A Lifetime
18. Rhoda
Tracks 10 to 18 are their 2nd LP "Bite Down Hard" – released March 1973 on Asylum SD 5065 in the USA and Asylum SYL 9005 in the UK

The album produced two 45s:
Ready Freddy b/w Wait A Lifetime
June 1973 USA 7” single on Asylum AS-11018
June 1973 UK 7” single on Asylum AYM 518

Rock Around The Symbol b/w Take Me Down Easy
September 1973 USA 7” single on Asylum AS-11020
September 1973 UK 7” single on Asylum AYM 521

Disc 2 (73:47 minutes):
1. I Wanna Love You
2. To The Island
3. Red Meat
4. Getaway
5. Before You Get Your Breakfast
6. At The Spa [Side 2]
7. Monkey Music
8. Couldn't Love You Better
9. High School Drool
10. Neon City
11. Turn The Boy Loose
Tracks 1 to 11 are their 3rd album "Jumpin' The Gunne" – released December 1973 in the USA on Asylum SD 5071 and April 1974 in the UK on Asylum SYL 9015.

The LP produced one 45:
I Wanna Love You b/w Neon City
December 1973 USA 7” single on Asylum AS-11031
May 1974 UK 7” single on Asylum AYM 528

12. Where Is The Show
13. I’m Your Shoe
14. Single Man
15. She Said Alright
16. S & M Blvd. [Side 2]
17. Falling Angel
18. Big Busted Bombshell From Bermuda
19. Into My Life
20. Around The World
Tracks 12 to 20 are their 4th and last studio album "So...Where's The Show?" – released December 1974 in the USA on Asylum SD 1022 and January 1975 in the UK on Asylum SYL 9019

The album produced two 45s:
Where Is The Show? b/w Into My Life
December 1974 USA-only 7” single on Asylum E-45225

Big Busted Bombshell From Bermuda b/w I'm Your Shoe
March 1975 UK-only 7” single on Asylum AYM 539

The 18-page booklet with excellent ALAN ROBINSON liner notes pictures the artwork for all the albums, UK and US Asylum label repros and album credits. PHIL KINRADE at Alchemy has carried out the mastering (based on the Rhino remasters) and the audio throughout rocks – clear and full of punch without being trebled up to the nines for the sake of it or overly hissy.

For the debut album both Jay Ferguson on Keyboards and Lead Vocals and Bassist Mark Andes were ex SPIRIT – bringing on board Mark’s brother Matthew Andes on second guitar with Curley Smith on Drums. Mark left for the 2nd LP “Bite Down Hard” and was replaced by Jimmie Randall on Bass and Vocals (that same line-up features on album 3). Matthew Andes left for the final LP “So...Where’s The Show?” to be replaced by John Staehely on Guitars and Vocals with Ferguson, Randall and Smith still at the helm.

The debut still has most people’s hearts opening with that killer song “Run Run Run” which still sounds amazing to this day. “Shake That Fat” was originally the B-side in the UK-only to “Run Run Run” (they used “Take It Easy” in the USA – it’s not an Eagles song but a Ferguson/Andes original) – but “Shake That Fats” was good rather than being great and tanked as second 45. “Babylon” is a great melodic Rock tune and might have been a better choice for 2nd single - or even the rocking “I Make Love” with its cool Joe Walsh’s James Gang feel to the guitars. Barroom boogie comes in the shape of “Barstow Blue Eyes” - a song about a tired waitress living for the freedom of the weekend after work. Side 2 opens with the piano and guitar “99 Days” followed by naughty ladies in the rather menacing “Academy Award”. Things slow down and get slightly Bluesy with “Take It Easy” while it ends on the almost Skynyrd “Flying Home” – a Rock ballad Jay Ferguson should be proud of.

The 2nd LP opens with the Foghat boogie of “Ready Freddy” which already feels like it’s trying too hard while “Roll Over Me” introduces synths to the Rock mix. It’s easy to hear why the bopping “Rock Around The Symbol” was chosen as a single – a good time Rock single with Radio potential. But one of the album’s better pieces is “Take Me Down Easy” while “Broken Down Man” goes after that Foghat audience again. But “Wait A Lifetime” and “Rhoda” feel tired and out of ideas...

Both the openers “I Wanna Love You” and “The Island” on “Jumpin’ The Gunne” are better than most tracks on the decidedly disappointing “Bite Down Hard LP” - but it seemed with an American LP placing somewhere around 170 on the Rock charts – the public wasn’t interested anymore. Things continue a-boogie with “Red Meat” and “Getaway” while the band tries a bit of Montrose funk with “High School Drool”. The Production on “Turn The Boy Loose” is wicked and those guitars Rock. By the time album number four rolled in Jo Jo Gunne had begun to sound like a brother to Aerosmith with the ‘rawk’ of “I’m Your Shoe” and the pleasing riffage of “S & M Blvd.”. They tried the slide guitar of “Big Busted Bombshell From Bermuda” as a single but its rather naff title probably kept it off the airwaves despite its wicked combo of guitar and piano boogie...

It’s not all genius by any means and Ferguson never had the greatest of voices – but lovers of Foghat and Aerosmith should definitely check out those forgotten 2nd, 3rd and 4th LPs...

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Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

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