Jo Jo Gunne


Band members                              Related acts

  line up 1 (1971-73)

- Mark Andes -- bass, vocals

- Matthew Andes -- guitar, backing vocals

- Jay Ferguson (RIP) -- vocals, keyboards

- Curly Smith -- drums, harp, backing vocals 

 

  line up 2 (1973)

- Matthew Andes -- guitar, backing vocals

- Jay Ferguson (RIP) -- vocals, keyboards

NEW - Jimmie Randall -- bass, backing vocals (replaced 

   Mark Andes)

- Curly Smith -- drums, harp, backing vocals 

-

  line up 3 (1973-75)

- Jay Ferguson (RIP) -- vocals, keyboards

- Jimmie Randall -- bass, backing vocals 

- Curly Smith -- drums, harp, backing vocals 

NEW - John Staehely -- guitar, backing vocals (replaced 

  Matthew Andes-)

 

  line up 4 (2005-)

- Mark Andes -- bass, vocals

- Matthew Andes -- guitar, backing vocals

 

 

 

- Boston (Curly Smith)

- The Dead Pyrates Society  (Jimmie Randall and John Staehley)

- Jay Ferguson (solo efforts)

- Firefall (Mark Andes)

- Heart (Mark Andes)

- The Law (John Staehley)

- Spirit (Mark Andes, Jay Ferguson and John Staehley)

- The Staehely Brothers (John Staehley)

 

 

 


 

Genre: rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Bite Down Hard

Company: Asylum

Catalog: SD-5006

Year: 1973

Country/State: Los Angeles, California

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: minor ring wear

Available: 2

Catalog ID: 5001

Price: $9.00

 

 

Following a personnel change that saw original bass player Mark Andes replaced by Jimmie Randall, the band returned with 1972's "Bite Down Hard".  Produced and engineered by Bill Szymczyk, in spite of having listened to it dozens of times, the album simply never made all that much of an impression on me.   Jay Ferguson was again responsible for the majority of the material and while there wasn't anything really wrong with rockers like 'Ready Freddy', ''Roll Over Me', and '60 Minutes To Go', none of the nine tracks were particularly original, or all that exciting.  Competent, if unexceptional bar band rock, the single 'Take Me Down Easy', 'Rock Around the Symbol' and the bluesy 'Special Situations' (the latter showcasing some nice Matthew Andes slide guitar), were probably the best of the lot. 

 

"Bite Down Hard" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Ready Freddy   (Jay Ferguson) - 4:00

Admittedly it was rather faceless boogie rock, but 'Ready Freddy' generated a bit of energy - kind of like one of those Spirit songs that was commercial, but just weird enough to scare off top-40 radio.   This one had an insidiously catchy title track refrain and a nice Matthew Andes solo going for it which probably helped explain why Asylum tapped it as the lead-off single.   rating: *** stars

2.) Roll Over Me   (Jay Ferguson) - 3:31

The opening synthesizers gave the song a momentary Styx feel, but then Ferguson's instantly recognizable voice brought everything back into focus.   A breezy rocker that, in spite of the cheesy synthesizer washes, actually had quite a bit of radio potential.   rating: *** stars

3.) 60 Minutes To Go   (Jay Ferguson) - 4:23

Ah, life in a rock band is tough ...  the best things on this one were the melody title track refrain and Andes brief solo.   rating: *** stars

4.) Rock Around the Symbol   (Jay Ferguson) - 2:25

While it lacked a single original note, or thought, 'Rock Around the Symbol' was probably the album's most enjoyable track.  If nothing else, it was fun to play spot-the-influence on this one.   rating: **** stars

5.) Broken Down Man   (Jay Ferguson) - 4:00

' Broken Down Man' started out sounding like they were going to stick their collective toes into some light progressive moves, but quickly morphed into a rather standard slice of boogie rock.   Jimmie Randall's bass solo and the catchy title track refrain provided the song highlights.   rating: *** stars

 

(side 2)
1.) Special Situations   (Jay Ferguson - Matthew Andes) - 4:40

Slowing things down and showcasing  Andes' sizzling slide moves (the dirty tone has always reminded me of ZZ Top), 'Special Situations' was a nice bluesy number and one of the band's lost treasures.  rating: **** stars

2.) Take Me Down Easy   (Jay Ferguson) - 5:25

Easily the album's most commercial track, 'Take Me Down Easy' was rightly tapped as a single, though it didn't do much commercially.  Highlights included some unexpectedly jazzy Ferguson keyboards and Andes most melodic guitar work.  rating: **** stars

3.) Wait a Lifetime   (Jay Ferguson) - 3:30

'Wait a Lifetime' was a standard and rather pedestrian blues rocker with Andes solo providing the brief highlight.   rating: ** stars

4.) Rhoda   (Jay Ferguson - Matthew Andes - Jimmie Randall - Curly Smith) - 4:40

The album's strangest track, 'Rhoda' (Ferguson sings it as Rooda) was a semi-mainstream rocker with each member getting a couple of moments in the spotlight and some truly weird vocals - imagine Sparks trying to be semi-normal and you'd have a feel for this one.  rating: *** stars

 

As mentioned, Asylum tapped the album for a couple of singles:

 

  

- 'Ready Freddy' b/w 'Wait a Lifetime' (Asylum catalog number AS-11018)

- 'Take Me Down' b/w 'Rock Around the Symbol' (Asylum catalog number AS-11020)  

 

Call it second tier Jo Jo Gunne and move on.

 

 

 

 



Genre: rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Jumpin' the Gunne

Company: Asylum

Catalog: SD-5071

Year: 1973

Country/State: Los Angeles, California

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: minor ring wear; gatefold sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 1353

Price: $9.00

 

Jo Jo Gunne's third studio set found them continuing their musical partnership with producer Bill  Szymczyk.  Released in 1973, "Jumpin' the Gunne" wasn't a major change in musical direction.   With Jay Ferguson credited with penning all eleven tracks, the album showcased the band's patented mix of West Coast rockers and occasional nods to more radio-friendly pop.   I've always liked Ferguson's raspy voice and his writing style which had a dark, cynical edge and those characteristics were in full display on this set.   Admittedly, Spirit fans were probably appalled by the outright commercial orientation, while lots of Jo Jo Gunne fans consider this to be the band's weakest collection.  I'll stand with the minority and argue those folks are simply wrong.   Spirit always wanted commercial success, just never got there.  For Jo Jo Gunne fans, song-for-song, this one had more than its share of winners, with the highlights including the radio friendly 'To the Island', the good-timey rocker 'High School Drool ', and the hard-rock closer 'Turn the Boy Lose'.   Admittedly the album may have been a little lightweight in the originality category, but the fact of the matter is sometimes mindless competence is a god thing and this was a fun spin from start to finish.    

 

"Jumpin' the Gunne" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) I Wanna Love You   (Jay Ferguson) - 3:49

Mindless, formulaic pop-rock, but it was quality mindless, formulaic pop-rock.  Jay Ferguson seldom sounded as good and the band really cooked on this one.    Easy to see why Asylum tapped this one as the single:

 

 

- 1974's 'I Wanna Love You' b/w 'Neon City' (Asylum catalog number AS 11031)   rating: *** stars

2.) To the Island   (Jay Ferguson) - 3:49

One of Jay Ferguson's more melodic offerings, 'To the Island' was a breezy, easy-going rocker with some nice Ferguson keyboards and pretty Matthew Andes lead guitar.   This probably would have made a better single.  rating: **** stars

3.) Red Meat   (Jay Ferguson) - 3:28

Yes, the lyric dripped with innuendo, but 'Red Meat' was an intriguing slice of commercial hard rock hat would have made Ted Nugent proud.  Even if you were a vegan, the "meat mama' refrain  probably could have made you smile.  Always liked the end-of-song jam section.    rating: *** stars

4.) Getaway   (Jay Ferguson) - 3:32

Funny, you would have thought a song like 'To the Island' would have included some Caribbean instrumentation, but the steel drums (played by Ferguson), appeared on the rocker 'Getaway'.   Fun track that's always reminded me of a late-inning Creedence Clearwater Revival tune.   Nice, but hardly the album's standout performance.   rating: *** stars

5.) Before You Get Your Breakfast   (Jay Ferguson) - 4:12

Opening up with some nice Matthew Andes fuzz guitar, 'Before You Get Your Breakfast' found the band working at the bluesier end of their repertoire.  Coupled with some funny lyrics, this one's always reminded me a bit of David Lee Roth-era Van Halen.  The tape quality isn't great, but YouTube has a clip of the band practicing the tune: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fa2y3iUu3io  rating: *** stars

 

(side 2)
1.) At the Spa
   (Jay Ferguson) - 2:54

With a jumpy melody, 'At the Spa' was the album's most-Spirit-like tune.   Quite enjoyable.  rating: *** stars

2.) Monkey Music   (Jay Ferguson) - 3:25

Songs opening up with sound effects (especially jungle sounds), aren't reknown for quality.  'Monkey Music' didn't break the mold, turning in a mindless slice of bar band boogie.  Heavy, but other than a nice Andes solo, completely forgettable.  rating: ** stars

3.) Couldn't Love You Better   (Jay Ferguson) - 3:01

'Couldn't Love You Better' had a Southern rock edge to it.  Who would have expected that ...  The result was one of album's hidden gems ... rating: *** stars

4.) High School Drool    (Jay Ferguson)- 3:34

C'mon, admit not everything has to be socially relevant.  If you ever wanted to know where David Lee Roth copped some of his goofball moves, this might be a good place to look.  Killer, goodtime rocker with some tasty Andres lead guitar that should make many folks smile recalling their high school days.   rating: **** stars

5.) Neon City   (Jay Ferguson) - 2:39

Admittedly, initially 'Neon City' didn't make much of an impact on me, but it grew on me with time.  Nice rocker with a dollop of Van Halen-styled swagger in the mix.   rating: *** stars

6.) Turn the Boy Lose    (Jay Ferguson)- 4:29

'Turn the Boy Lose' was probably the hardest rocking tune they ever recorded and served as a showcase for some Andes/Ferguson twin lead guitar pyrotechnics.   Awesome way to end the collection.  rating: **** stars

 

 

From a marketing standpoint you certainly had to wonder about Tom Wilkins' cringe-inducing cover art.   I guess it was intended to be funny, but the photo of an obese woman jumping over the band members propped up in a bed was borderline misogynistic and sent  retailers scurrying for cover.   An inner sleeve photo showing the same woman playing with a piglet didn't help matters.  I doubt the band won themselves any fans in the feminist market.   

Add to that, the absence of a major hit didn't help sales.  The album proved a commercial disappointment, peaking at # 109 on the US charts.   Lead guitarist Matthew Andes subsequently quit the band.

 

 

 

 


Genre: rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  So ... Where's the Show?

Company: Asylum

Catalog: 7E-1022

Year: 1975

Country/StateLos Angeles, California

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5000

Price: $9.00

 

 

 

Co-produced by John Stronach and the band, 1975's "So ... Where's the Show?" also served to introduce former late-inning Spirit guitarist John Staehley (replacing Matt Andes).  With Jay Ferguson again responsible for writing all of the material, tracks like 'Where's the Show?', 'Single Man' and 'S&M Blvd' featured a clear mid-1970s AOR feel, though this time around the group's patented bar band boogie was supplemented by a more varied sound including modest nods to a pseudo-glam feel (be sure to check out their back cover stage outfits).  While that may not have sounded like high praise, Ferguson actually managed to crank out quite a few memorable tunes and the addition of Staehley served to give the band a far more interesting sound (check out his voice box solo on 'She Said Allright'.  Highlights included 'I'm Your Shoe' and the ballad 'Into My Life'.  Elsewhere 'Where Is the Show' b/w 'Into My Life' (Asylum catalog number E-45225) served as the band's final single.

 

In spite of an American tour, commercially the album was a disappointment, barely making the top-200 charts at # 198.   The griup subsequently called it quits, with Ferguson going on to an erratic solo career.

 

"So ... Where's the Show?" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Where's the Show?   (Jay Ferguson) - 

2.) I'm Your Shoe   (Jay Ferguson) - 

3.) Single Man   (Jay Ferguson) - 

4.) She Said Allright (sic)   (Jay Ferguson) - 

 

(side 2)
1.) S&M Blvd   (Jay Ferguson) - 

2.) Falling Angle   (Jay Ferguson) - 

3.) Big Busted Bombshell from Bermuda   (Jay Ferguson) - 

4.) Into My Life   (Jay Ferguson) - 

5.) Around the World   (Jay Ferguson) - 

 

 

 

BACK TO BADCAT FRONT PAGE

BACK TO BADCAT CATALOG PAGE

BACK TO BADCAT PAYMENT INFORMATION