Jay James

Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1

- Jay James (aka James Goldstein, aka Jimmy Goldstein) 

  (RIP 2009) -- lead, guitar, keyboards


  backing musicians:

- Tony Assalti -- drums, percussion

- Ray Deineman -- bass




- Stonewall





Genre: country-rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Good Times & Bad Times

Company: Tiger Lily

Catalog: TL 14063

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: little bit of aging along edges; small 'J' written on top left corner of front cover - not shown on photo

Available: SOLD

Catalog ID: SOLD 5908

Price: SOLD $150.00


I picked this album up years ago at a yard sale and after a quick spin, dumped in it my "also ran" pile.   And then one day I stumbled across a brief reference to Jay James.  I remember saving the file, but now I don't have any idea where I placed it.  Figures ...  About the only thing I remember was that he was originally form Long Island, Jay James wasn't his real name and that he was a producer/sound engineering by profession.


Turns out his name was Jimmy Goldstein and along with Rick Feinstein and Henry Hoffman he was one of the owners of Manhattan's Tower Sound Studios.   Goldstein may be best known for having hired Stonewall as the studio band for Tower Studios.  He also financed and played organ on their highly sought after tax scam album (I won't go into the story of how he released the album without the band's knowledge)..


The first time I heard 1977's "Good Times & Bad Times" I was struck by James growling voice.  To my ears he bore an uncanny resemblance to Richard Thompson of Fairport Convention fame.  That made his deep, rustic voice one of those instruments that you either loved, or completely disdained - not much room in the middle ground.  Personally I found it quite appealing.  James was also credited with penning all ten songs, as well as providing lead guitar (he was quite good) and handling keyboards.  Backed by former Stonewall associates Tony Assalti on drums and bass player Ray Deineman, the album was also interesting for it's musical direction.  Who would have expected a Long Island guy to record a surprisingly good country-rock set?  I can just see a bunch of you hitting the forward button, but this is one of those rarities where I'd suggest ignoring your initial impulses.  Given James/Goldstein's association with Stonewall, I'm guessing the album was recorded in 1969.  The fact it was released on Morris Levy's Tiger Lily imprint makes me speculate the tapes were turned over in the same deal that saw James pass on the Stonewall tapes.


"Good Times & Bad Times" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Good Times and Bad Times   (Jay James) -    rating: ** stars  

The title track served as a perfect example of the Richard Thompson comparison.  Like much of Thompson's solo career, this one explored the border between country, honky tonk, and rock.  That made 'Good Times and Bad Times'  too country for rock fans and too rock for country fans.

2.) Ruby Starlight   (Jay James) -   rating: **** stars

'Ruby Starlight' found the emphasis shifting to the rock side of the equation.  A slinky rocker, this one sounded like some hybrid between The Cate Brothers and Tony Joe White.  Great keyboards and guitar from James made this one of the standout performances. 

3.) Semi   (Jay James) -    rating: *** stars

With its truck driving lyric 'Semi' had a very country flavor, but it was packaged in a likeable country-rock melody that was quite attractive and memorable.  Another one I was surprised to find myself liking.  It also sported another killer James lead guitar solo.   

4.) She's Still There   (Jay James) -    rating: * star

A pedestrian country ballad, 'She's Still There' was the first disappointment.

5.) Maybe She's A Lover   (Jay James) -    rating: *** stars

On the surface 'Maybe She's A Lover' was one of those country-rock ballads that shouldn't have had much appeal to me, but the combination of James blustery delivery, some funny lyrics 'you can't get love off of a 33', and one of James most melodic and impressive guitar solos, won me over.   


(side 2)
1.) Supa Dupa Star   (Jay James) -   rating: **** stars

Yeah the woe-is-life-as-a-rock-star lyric was lame, but as one of the most pop-oriented songs on the album 'Supa Dupa Star' was a blast.  Loved the nods to a host of '70s stars - you'll probably never hear John Lennon, Leon Russell, and Dobie Gray liked together on another song.   

2.) Another Monday   (Jay James)    rating: *** stars

The mid-tempo ballad 'Another Monday' was another song that started out too country for my tastes, but quickly morphed into something far more accessible and commercial.  Nice melody and one of the few songs to showcase James and Deineman's pretty harmony vocals.

3.) Natural Flier   (Jay James) - 

With lots of strumming acoustic guitar and Hammond B in the background, 'Natural Flier' sported one of James prettiest country-rock melodies.  This one actually had considerable commercial potential.   rating: *** stars

4.) Rock N' Roll Tour   (Jay James) -    rating: ** stars  

Nice keyboard-propelled pop number, but ultimately 'Rock N' Roll Tour' was simply too cutesy for its own good.   

5.) Gypsy Cowboy   (Jay James) -    rating: ** stars  

As much as I wanted to like the pretty ballad 'Gypsy Cowboy' it was simply too country for my tastes.   

6.) It's Only Love   (Jay James) -    rating: ** stars  

And 'It's Only Love' ended the album on another pretty, but forgettable country ballad.   


Yeah this one was probably a touch too country for some folks, but all told, one of the bigger surprises I've stumbled across on Tiger Lily, or any tax scam release and well worth checking out.



James/Goldstein apparently passed on in 2009.