The James Gang – Rides Again

More Joe Walsh

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  • James Gang’s sophomore release finally arrives on the site with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on both sides
  • Full-bodied and Tubey Magical, with especially smooth, present vocals – this is the sound we love at Better Records
  • The group’s highest rated record and, as they say on the cover, this album is “Made Loud To Be Played Loud,” especially on a pressing this good
  • 4 1/2 stars: “With their second album Rides Again, the James Gang came into their own. Under the direction of guitarist Joe Walsh, the group — now featuring bassist Dale Peters — began incorporating keyboards into their hard rock, which helped open up their musical horizons.”

This shootout produced little in the way of audiophile quality pressings. Most of what we played was just too noisy to sell. We had a devil of a time finding copies that played as quiet as the grades you see here.

It will be the best sound you have ever heard for the band’s second album, we guarantee it.

The powerfully energetic chorus on Funk #49, the first track on the album and longtime Classic Rock Radio staple, really gets big and loud on this copy. You can be sure that it doesn’t sound that way unless you have one of these very special pressings, the kind with real richness and weight to the sound (depending on the grades of course; not every copy we sell does everything we want it to).

By the way, if you hear some Poco influence pop up of the album, note that Rusty Young guests on Pedal Steel.

This vintage ABC pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What the best sides of James Band Rides Again have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1970
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

What We’re Listening For on Rides Again

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Funk #49

Walsh wrote this song with his bandmates, drummer Jim Fox and bass player Dale Peters. The song is about a girlfriend whose wild ways the singer just can’t tame (the female equivalent of Joe Walsh’s character in his solo hit “Life’s Been Good). There isn’t much in the way of lyrics, as the song is mostly a showcase for Walsh’s guitar work. He explained in the book The Guitar Greats, “I came up with the basic guitar lick, and the words never really impressed me intellectually, but they seemed to fit somehow. It was a real good example of how we put things together, bearing in mind that it was a three piece group, and I don’t think that there was any overdubbing. The only thing we really added was the percussion middle part, which the three of us actually played, putting some parts on top of the drums, but that’s the three piece James Gang, and that’s the energy and kind of the symmetry we were all about.” – Songfacts

Asshton Park
Woman
The Bomber
a. Closet Queen
b. Bolero
c. Cast Your Fate to the Wind

Side Two

Tend My Garden
Garden Gate
There I Go Again
Thanks
Ashes the Rain and I

AMG 4 1/2 Star Review

With their second album Rides Again, the James Gang came into their own. Under the direction of guitarist Joe Walsh, the group — now featuring bassist Dale Peters — began incorporating keyboards into their hard rock, which helped open up their musical horizons.

For much of the first side of Rides Again, the group tear through a bunch of boogie numbers, most notably the heavy groove of “Funk #49.”

On the second side, the James Gang departs from their trademark sound, adding keyboard flourishes and elements of country-rock to their hard rock. Walsh’s songwriting had improved, giving the band solid support for their stylistic experiments.

What ties the two sides of the record together is the strength of the band’s musicianship, which burns brightly and powerfully on the hardest rockers, as well as on the sensitive ballads.

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