James Gang

Bang

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    6
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With guitarist Domenic Troiano out of the picture, the post-Joe Walsh James Gang was able to take their career off life support temporarily by adding guitarist Tommy Bolin beginning with this 1973 release. Having just dissolved his short-lived fusion band Energy, Bolin's creative playing injects a little Miles and Mahavishnu into the usually rocking Gang, most noticeably on "From Another Time." Staccato guitar lines and congas begin the song, an old-style James Gang boogie fills the middle, and then a sound effect explosion abruptly brings it all to a jarring, nonsensical close. It's all of the album's problems in a nutshell since the knotty and the normal are at odds throughout, although there are many moments to remember. Even if Bolin's wistful "Alexis" doesn't fit with the other tracks it's a highlight, as is the opening rocker "Standing in the Rain" where conmen ("Your note said you went to Charleston/But I know you went to New Mexico) and cretins ("You left behind a dead father/A sick mother and 4 younger kids") are forced to face up to love. Bang feels less like a band album and more like talented studio musicians on the loose, but die-hard fans of either the Gang or the late Bolin will enjoy it, if only in fits and starts.

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