Jo Jo Gunne

Jumpin' the Gunne

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Jay Ferguson wrote all ten of the songs on Jumpin' the Gunne, an album produced by Bill Szymczyk and the third disc by this offshoot of the group Spirit's. By this time, Mark Andes was gone -- he would join Firefall and later Heart -- leaving his brother Matt Andes on guitar and Jay Ferguson on keyboards, lead vocals, and second guitar, and leaving them to their own devices. There is just something that doesn't catch on here. "At the Spa" and "Monkey Music" both have their moments, but in these grooves there is none of the intensity of their first hit "Run Run Run" or Ferguson's later signature tune, "Thunder Island," which came during the middle of Firefall's string of hits. "To the Island" isn't "Thunder Island" by any stretch, while "Getaway" sounds a bit like a Doobie Brothers outtake. Jo Jo Gunne was a decent concert pairing opening for the Doobies after their Run Run Run debut LP. The sounds on "Couldn't Love You Better" pretty much sum up this disc -- nondescript album rock with an LP cover which is the most politically incorrect sight you can imagine. All four bandmembers are in a big brass bed staring at the ceiling where a large and flabby woman is floating through the room while a small pig looks up at her. On the inside cover the pig and the large woman are nose to nose, and the album credits are written on the woman the way you see cuts of beef written out on a drawing of a cow at a butcher shop. If this is supposed to be funny or hip, it isn't, and the concept falls flatter than the music. The enigma of the offshoots of Spirit is in all its glory on Jumpin' the Gunne, musicians who should have stayed with the original program. Three-fourths of this band would reunite with Randy California, Ed Cassidy, and Mark Andes for the live album, Spirit of '84, and though everything is in tune enough here, and is perfectly recorded by Bill Szymczyk, there is just no material to speak of. This would have been a perfect time for the group to do an album of other people's tunes. There's energy, but without a hook and melody it dissipates into thin air. Which begs the question, what's worse -- an album like Portsmouth Sinfonia Plays the Classics, which is just awful, or an album of strong musicianship which is unlistenable?

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