Overall ‘Miami’ and James Gang output in general sits happily with the equally tedious Jo Jo Gunne and aforementioned Grand Funk.
Written by: Eric
ARTIST: James Gang
SERIAL: QD 36-102
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Roy Kenner – lead & backing vocals * Tommy Bolin – guitars, lead vocals * Dale Peters – bass, percussion, backing vocals * Jimmy Fox – drums, percussion, backing vocals
Additional Musicians: Albhy Galuten – synthesizer
TRACK LISTING: 01 Cruisin’ Down The Highway * 02 Do It (The Way You Do It) * 03 Wildfire * 04 Sleepwalker * 05 Miami Two-Step * 06 Praylude * 07 Red Skies * 08 Spanish Lover * 09 Summer Breezes * 10 Head Above The Water
WEBLINKS: Site Link
American readers will no doubt be familiar with James Gang’s 1970 hit ‘Funk #49’ which to this day is looped ad nauseam on classic rock radio. But for the majority of the band’s lifetime their career paralleled REO Speedwagon with aggressive touring, especially in their native Midwest while becoming a virtual money-pit for their respective labels with low record sales and non-charting singles.
While REO eventually climbed out of the hole, James Gang were barely afforded a proverbial shovel. Formed in Cleveland, Ohio in the late 1960s, the James Gang is notable for their revolving door of well-known guitarists.
Joe Walsh left the band in ’71 for Barnstorm, solo work and eventually the Eagles with Dominec Troiano lasting for two albums before joining The Guess Who. His replacement was cross-dressing Sioux City, Iowa guitarist Tommy Bolin who stuck around for 1973’s ‘Bang’ and the Gang’s follow-up released a year later – ‘Miami’.
This album was recorded at the now legendary Criteria Studios in Miami, Florida with producer Tom Dowd whose list of previous clients included The Allman Brothers and Derek & The Dominoes. The James Gang boogied down the same road seen and heard before, i.e. typically bland ’70s blue jeaned hard rock following the misty blue vapor trail left by the far more successful BTO and Grand Funk Railroad.
Tommy Bolin’s six-string talents are well known and yet some of the material seems shockingly out of his league including opening salvo ‘Cruisin’ Down The Highway’ and the ham-fisted Mountain-ish rocker ‘Do It’ although as one would expect his solos are solid and exemplary. Blues boy vocalist Roy Kenner is more than adequate and Bolin’s virtuoso slide work on the wee-hours power ballad ‘Sleepwalker’ is a highlight. But overall ‘Miami’ and James Gang output in general sits happily with the equally tedious Jo Jo Gunne and aforementioned Grand Funk catalog as some of the most boring rock albums ever pressed to vinyl.
James Gang spent most of 1974 crisscrossing the U.S. performing oddball dates with Black Oak Arkansas, Black Sabbath and Humble Pie while headlining shows in nearly every Midwestern city and town with a concert stage.
Tommy Bolin would leave later in the year for Deep Purple, appearing on their ‘Come Taste The Band’ album and pursuing a short-lived solo career before passing away on December 4, 1976 of a drug overdose. Meanwhile James Gang continued to record and tour until their 1977 break-up. I wonder if anyone cared.
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