Contrary to what popular opinion and what Don Mclean will tell you, the music did not die on February 3rd 1959 when the plane carrying The Big Bopper, Ritchie Valens, and Buddy Holly crashed into an Iowa corn field. In reality “The Day the Music Died” was actually that fateful day in 1977 that the novelty song “Disco Duck” made it to number one on the billboard charts. Sure there had been other apocalyptic signs that rock music had “jumped the shark” and was destined for decades of mediocrity, not the least of them being the popularity of Air Supply, the song “Horse with No Name”, which was probably better than naming your dog “Boo”, and of course Barry Manilow. Debby Boone, you’re in luck, rock was already dead when you released your god awful song “You Light up My Life” in 1977, so you’re off the hook.
But I digress. The James Gang’s “Yer’ Album” released in 1970 was the first album by the power boogie- rock trio of Joe Walsh on guitar, Jim Fox on Drums, and Tim Kriss on Bass. Not yet able to find it’s true identity this eponymous release was an eclectic mix of cover tunes including the “worth the price of admission alone” and beautiful version of the Buffalo Springfield tune “Bluebird” and the Yardbirds’ classic “Lost Woman” which features fine extended guitar, bass, and drum solos that are “live and in concert” worthy.
“Funk 48” is not as good as “Funk 49” but is still a great tune and showcases the guitar wizardry of Joe Walsh. It does make me wonder, however, what happened to the first 47 Funks.
The first official cut on the album “Take A Look Around” begins with a piano interlude, kicking into an organ riff, followed by the unique vocal style of Joe Walsh which is one of those truly one-of-a-kind voices that seems to come from some sort of auto-tune device buried in his throat somewhere near the tonsils. The song slowly builds, reaches a sort of crescendo, then drifts back down, and somewhere near the bottom of this groovy roller coaster ride you realize that you are listening to one cool song and one groovy band.
The final song on the album “Stop” weighing in at a whopping 12:04 has almost a free-flow jazz feel to it with each band member showing off their considerable music chops until out nowhere the song kind of mysteriously and abruptly, as the name implies, stops.
The album as a whole may seem a bit rambling and disjointed to some and their subsequent album is a much tighter and cohesive affair yielding the hits “Funk 49” and “The Bomber”. If this album only serves to capture a unique sounding band in its’ embryonic stage while unleashing the beast that is Joe Walsh on to an unsuspecting public, then it has done its’ job.
The party wouldn’t last long of course. A solo career and a money grab stint with the Eagles were still ahead for Joe Walsh. But in the end “Yer’ Album” is My Album and a fine example of the purity of music that existed before the day that music died.
— Bernie Sparrow San Francisco, California USA
- “Introduction” (Bert de Coteaux, Jim Fox, Bill Szymczyk) – 0:40
- “Take a Look Around” (Joe Walsh) – 6:18
- “Funk #48” (Fox, Tom Kriss, Walsh) – 2:46
- “Bluebird” (Stephen Stills) – 6:02
- “Lost Woman” (Jeff Beck, Chris Dreja, Jim McCarty, Keith Relf, Paul Samwell-Smith) – 9:06
- “Stone Rap” (Fox, Kriss, Szymczyk, Walsh) – 1:00
- “Collage” (Patrick Cullie, Walsh) – 4:02
- “I Don’t Have the Time” (Fox, Walsh) – 2:49
- “Wrapcity in English” (Walsh) – 0:57
- “Fred” (Walsh) – 4:09
- “Stop” (Jerry Ragovoy, Mort Shuman) – 12:04
- Joe Walsh – guitars, keyboards, piano, vocals.
- Tom Kriss – bass guitar, flute, vibraphone, vocals.
- Jim Fox – drums, percussion, keyboards, vocals.