The James Gang found their groove with the electric acoustic blues bomb balladry of this funky fandango. Bassist Tom Kriss quit the band before their debut Yer’ Album had been released. Jim Fox called up drummer turned bassist Dale Peters: “I said,..'Why don’t you come down tonight after the gig and we’ll play for a while?’ And he did and it was magic. It was instantaneously an upgrade, which we never expected...With Dale on the same page, there didn’t seem to be direction issues. It all seemed to be pulling in the same direction and that was very helpful during those days, because it went together more easily. Joe for instance, was less likely to say, ‘Listen, Tom, I want you to do this, Jimmy, I’d like you to do this.’ Because what we were playing was organically more naturally right to us all...We felt we were going from a position of strength. When we were working on the record, it felt very much like we were pulling in the same direction. It felt very much like we were doing positive things. When it was finished, we think we did it well. Our attitude was, ‘We’ve accomplished it.'”
Peters remembers: “We could just play instantly. I mean, we had the same record collections, we liked the exact same kind of music — we could just play. We can still do it. If we got together tomorrow, it would just work. It just works, I don’t know why. We’re completely different people and we never really hung around together, but we could always play together. So it was great. It was great fun. It was easy. It was fabulous. It was just natural right from the beginning...We jammed in the dressing rooms before each show, so that’s kind of where it all came from. All of those riffs and all of those little things we had thought about month after month, just to get warmed up, they turned into tunes. I mean, it was easy. Bill got a great sound and he was really great to work with. You know, he was really loose and never said, ‘No, we can’t do that’ or ‘We don’t want to do that.’ We could do whatever we wanted...It was all working. Everything was working. We had found our sound, we had a good recording thing going, we had the right agents, you know, all of this stuff was in place.”
'James Gang Rides Again' featured Joe Walsh on guitars, vocals, keyboards, piano, and percussion; Dale Peters on bass guitars, vocals, guitars, keyboards, and percussion; and Jim Fox on drums, vocals, percussion, keyboards, organ, and piano; with Rusty Young adding pedal steel guitar. Walsh looks back: “We recorded at a studio called the Record Plant in Los Angeles — it now is legendary, Stevie Wonder got the studio next to us and was in there for a month. Marvin Gaye was in another studio for two weeks. Everybody was recording at the Record Plant. … It was a brand new studio and it was state-of-the-art, and being in that environment creatively was like a B-12 shot. We didn’t know how to record, but we could do anything we wanted, so we did. We tried a bunch of stuff out and a lot of that was not knowing exactly what we wanted to do, but just, ‘Well, why don’t we do this?’ ‘Okay.’ And then we’d record it. That’s what’s special about Rides Again. When you know how to make records, you do it totally different.”
Producer and engineer Bill Szymczyk reveals: “Townshend heard them and put them on a Who tour opening for them, and that’s all it took in those days and they were on their way. So when it came time for Rides Again, they had … especially Walsh, he had a giant head full of ideas. I don’t mean a giant head, but he had a head full of ideas...[Splitting the album between 'electric' and 'acoustic' sides] was kind of the game plan from the get-go...The way that I always like to sequence stuff is that you have a hard hitter in front — you’ve got a good lead-off man. And it’s got to be short and to the point and it’s got as much of what the band is about as you can put into the first song. … When you’re at the end of almost 20 minutes, then you’ve got to have a great closer — you’ve got to close out the first half. And then the same on the other side, you’ve got to open big and you’ve got to close strong. The four corners, as I used to call them, would take care of themselves. Then it was strictly a matter of filling in the blanks....That was it. That was it — that was the great James Gang album. Period.”
"Funk #49" peaked at number fifty-nine on the US singles chart.
Walsh says: “The James Gang started out doing cover songs. And then the next thing for us was to do the beginning of a cover song and then do a five-minute jam in the middle that was different every night. And ‘Funk #49’ was actually a groove that we’d come up with — one of our tools that we would throw into the middle of cover songs. And finally we just wrote some words for it.”
Joe Walsh - Funk 49 (Live) by Killer_Tomato
"The Bomber: Closet Queen"/ "Boléro"/ "Cast Your Fate to the Wind"
Peters: “The guy who owned the Record Plant had just put in these new expensive monitors, and Bill was the first guy to use them, which was a real mistake, because you know, Bill’s original [motto was] ‘Made Loud to Be Played Loud,'...[During “The Bomber” playback] the speaker just physically blew out of the wall.”
Szymczyk: “We blew eight of those speakers up...The next day, [Record Plant co-founder] Gary Kellgren went to his maintenance guy, his head tech, who was Tom Hidley, and he said to Tom, ‘Make me a monitor that Szymczyk can’t blow up!’ That was the birth of the Hidley monitor, which is in hundreds of studios around the world at this point.”
Walsh reveals the legal issues regarding the inclusion of a passage from Ravel’s “Boléro,”: “Ravel was French, and French copyright law and French law in general is insane. The French copyright, Ravel’s heirs and Ravel’s estate stipulated in the French copyright law that the piece had to be played in its entirety, top to bottom. You could never play little parts of it. And it had to be played by the full orchestra that it was written for. Well, we didn’t know that!...[Years later the full version was restored when] the copyright length ran out. It was like 60 years or something and it got to the point where it was 60 years and it kind of became … you know, at the time, this was for albums. CDs didn’t exist when they wrote the law. So when CDs replaced the albums as a format, there’s nothing that said we couldn’t do that!”
"Ashes, the Rain and I"
'James Gang Rides Again'
All songs by Joe Walsh, except where noted.
1. "Funk #49" (Fox, Peters, Walsh) 3:54
2. "Asshtonpark" (Fox, Peters, Walsh) 2:01
3. "Woman" (Fox, Peters, Walsh) 4:37
4. "The Bomber: Closet Queen"/ "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" (Fox, Peters, Walsh, Vince Guaraldi) 5:39
5. "Tend My Garden" 5:45
6. "Garden Gate" 1:36
7. "There I Go Again" 2:51
8. "Thanks" 2:21
9. "Ashes, the Rain and I" 5:00
10. "The Bomber: Closet Queen"/ "Boléro"/ "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" (Fox, Peters, Walsh, Maurice Ravel, Vince Guaraldi) 7:04
11. "Down on the Farm" 3:12