Monday, August 10, 2015

James Gang - Live in Concert

I suppose I'm a dyed in the wool homer.  I like Cleveland and I like Ohio.  I think musically we really kill it, and some of the evidence of that is Cleveland's own James Gang. I know people that have actually never heard any of this stuff, which is where Joe Walsh proved that he was a certifiable Rock Guitar God.  Not with any disclaimers tossed in, either.  No one that's ever seen and heard Joe tear it up says he's a great guitar player, he's like toss your favorite in here but not quite as good.  You just don't say that about the guy.  When you see Joe play you can't imagine how utterly effortless his playing appears, like he was just born with a guitar.  He can pull out an acoustic guitar and play as pretty as anyone, and then just plug in and peel your face right off.

Live the James Gang stuff is mostly the peel your face off variety of Joe's playing.  That's my favorite stuff anyway, and Dale Peters and Jim Fox keep the bottom end hard and heavy so Joe can do his thing.  The beginning of side one always seemed kind of like one big song to me, but it's actually three.  These were what caught all of our attention when we were teenagers, hanging out in this one guy's room who had a sister that was a decidedly harder rocker than most people I knew.  These days the stuff she liked the best can be dismissed as Blooze Rawk or just lunkheaded stupidity.  I really don't care where the cool kids have decided this stuff falls when they plot out what is and isn't worthy.  I like plenty of critical favorites, but if you've never ripped a bong to Tend My Garden or Walk Away, then maybe you just haven't figured out what this Rock N' Roll stuff is all about.

Because Joe Walsh has always been fun, and he's always been smarter than he lets on.  He's written some stuff that's just kind of throwaway novelty things, but he's the guy that wrote Walk Away, and while it gives him plenty of room to play a big, fat riff it's also nothing he should be lyrically ashamed of, either.  I think it's kind of funny that of the biggest songs James Gang had, Walk Away is far and away the most popular that made it on to this record.  They left Funk 49 off.  They left The Bomber off.  you can kind of think, "What the hell!" but trust me, the closer on this record is killer.

The closer is the Yardbirds classic, Lost Woman.  You gotta have some confidence in your guitar playing when you decide to not only cover a song Jeff Beck unleashed on the world when he was a true rock god, but then to just annihilate your guitar for fifteen minutes on Jeff's song, well that takes real chutzpah.  Joe kills it, too.  Dale peters gets to do a bass thing for a bit and while it's not Chris Squire, it's certainly not the kind of thing that whatever the guy with the real long name at AllMusic  seems to feel Joe had grown out of.

I mean, this is a great 1970's live album, and yes, it has a goddamned drum solo on it.  But at least it's pretty furious and doesn't last too long.  The acapella part is kind of weird but it doesn't last long, either and at least it's kind of funny.  I never got to see the James Gang, and I really wish I had been old enough to see them.  I'm fine with who I am and how old I am and I don't really regret not seeing them, because I did see Joe solo when he was running for president, and he played a long time and killed it.

I don't know how long I've had this.  It's in really good shape and it sounds terrific.  All in all, definitely one I'll never be getting rid of.