Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Jo Jo Gunne|
So...Where's the Show?
Genres: Pop, Rock, Classic Rock, Metal
In contrast to 'Jumpin' the Gunne', the band took its time making its last album, breaking in a new producer (John Stronach), a new guitarist (John Staehely) to replace Matt Andes, and crafting a more layered, reflective a... more »
In contrast to 'Jumpin' the Gunne', the band took its time making its last album, breaking in a new producer (John Stronach), a new guitarist (John Staehely) to replace Matt Andes, and crafting a more layered, reflective and mature sound. A fine and fond farewell from one of the best bands of the early '70s! Includes 'Where Is the Show?; I'm Your Shoe; Single Man; She Said All Right; S & M Blvd.; Falling Angel; Big, Busted Bombshell from Bermuda; Into My Life', and 'Around the World'.
THE LAST GUNNE RIDES AGAIN
jkatt | Chicago | 10/08/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Somebody said I was crazy to like it, asked what my youth was
worth . . . how could he know it's the greatest attraction on Earth?"
--- Opening lyrics, SO...WHERE IS THE SHOW?
This is the key to the Soul of a Rocker....in this case, a man named Jay Ferguson, captain of the ship-of-savants known as Jo Jo Gunne. One of the 1970s' greatest musical enigmas, Jo Jo Gunne fell --- or, more accurately "jumped ship" --- out of Spirit, America's greatest, most creative musical aggregate to date.
Pioneers of jazz-rock fusion years before Miles Davis' BITCHES BREW, Spirit's hard-luck story should be the backbone of a "VH-1: Behind The Music" segment that mirrors the travails described in Al Kooper's biobook, "Backstage Passes And Backstabbing Bastards" to which most Pop acts are privvy.
The sins bordered on criminal, in the case of Spirit...a band that should have been hailed within the pantheon of Rock popularity above any of their contemporaties, including their LA neighbors, The Doors. Spirit was just too good, in that sense.
And their commercial success came, literally, moments after their two "blonde bombshells" group members (songwriter/front man Ferguson and bassist/anchor Mark Andes) departed for a single-focused, more definable, seemingly more lucrative career point, forming Jo Jo Gunne in late 1971. (Spirit's 4th album, TWELVE DREAMS OF DR SARDONICUS, did not climb the charts with sufficient dispatch for the immensely talented duo. Tragically, it was the last missed-it-by-that-much for a band that, e.g., declined the opportunity to open for their long-time friend Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock. But, of course, who knew???)
Completely eschewing their esoteric roots, the Gunne's 1972 breakout, self-titled debut album still ranks among the greatest straight-ahead Rock albums of all time.
Twisting away 180 degrees from the over-produced wetness of SARDONICUS, JO JO GUNNE jumped feet first into the uncharted Mojave Desert of bare-bones, Southern-California rock-and-roll. (Fellow Asylum Records artists The Eagles, whose premiere album flew off the shelves in 1972, explored that same desert from the Country side.)
Stepping out from the dark genius that was Spirit, the Gunne melded Ferguson's previously unheard, barrel-house piano style and trademark sinewy, smokey-dark melody lines with his strange-and-wonderful lyrical paintings, all-the-while nailed to the floor by Andes' unmistakable bottoms. (Note: EVERY bass player should learn the importance of and the elements of Andes' unmistakable style, not only in cementing a band's overall sound through its disciplined lows, but also in its addition of counterpoint, color and movement to even the simplest moments.)
Later that same discography, WHERE'S THE SHOW if not floated, at least drifted their sound into a direction that could have saved the remainder of the decade from Disco. As it stands, this was the band's swan song. More's the pity.
The title opener, as always, was the dependable, Fergusonian killer single. More subtle, yet much more anthemic than most of the band's previous material and pre-sages Jay's later bent, especially the immense single, "Shakedown Cruise," from his REAL LIFE AIN'T THAT WAY solo LP.
Having seen the band on its final tour that largely pushed this, their farewell set, I was thoroughly impressed by the live execution of WHERE'S THE SHOW?'s beefy, expressive rock lines. The great and pleasant surprise was guitarist John Staehle's work: hot and fluid solos that were dramatically different in technique and technology from founding guitarist Matt Andes' strokes, Staehle redeemed himself from the abyss that was Spirit's extremely forgettable follow-up to TWELVE DREAMS OF DR SARDONICUS, called simply FEEDBACK. (In his, and his bassist brother Al's defense, they never had a chance. Especially since they had neither any appreciable songwriting talent nor Jazz chops.)
Be that as it may, SO...WHERE IS THE SHOW? demonstrated a newer, fresher, much more muscular and directed sound. Also, there is a LOT less clutter and over-production than on the band's two previous outings, BITE DOWN HARD (the weakest of the Gunne's four albums) and JUMPIN' THE GUNNE, which was infused with gobs of Ferguson's inimitable sense-of-humor, largely absent from BITE.
"Where Is The Show?" drafts the sentiments of the road (a shaft that Ferguson had mined previously, on JO JO GUNNE's "99 Days" and BITE DOWN HARD's "60 Minutes To Go") with a positive flush, dodging the complaints and getting down to the benefits and motivations of the ridiculous lifestyle that is rock-and-roll. "I'm Your Shoe" is a comedic show-stopper. (No one but Ferguson, other than perhaps Walt Disney, Chuck Jones or Dr. Seuss, could breathe life into an inanimate object with such panache.)
"Single Man" describes the honest sentiments of a man of integrity, pulled away from home and hearth by the necessary vagaries of, again, the rock-and-roll lifestyle. "Do you think I could have made it as a single man?" asks Ferguson, who forgives, "so let the foolish man gamble, crazy man ramble...all I can handle is some peace of mind...I'm a homebound rover, honey, think it over. Baby, we're doin' fine."
"Big Busted Bombshell From Bermuda" is another hilarious Fergusonian travelogue. (If Jay ever does a compilation of all his works, there are lots of creatures and habitats to be visited: "Animal Zoo," "Thunder Island," "Topanga Windows," "Babylon," "To The Island," "At The Spa," and many, many more. It should be called "MISTER JAY'S GREAT ESCAPES.")
Now, so many years later, the real question is: "SO . . . where's the GUNNE?"
Fans and true believers may not have long to wait: the original (and only valid) line-up of the band, including the incomparable Mark Andes on bass, reunited in 2003 to record a new album, titled THE BIG CHAIN.
Look for it~jk