Saturday, July 28, 2012

James Gang: Funk #49

If there was a quintessential James Gang song, it would have to be “Funk #49” from their 1970 second album “Rides Again.” I got thinking about this tune about six weeks ago when a friend of mine started playing it on an acoustic guitar and I followed suit on my mandolin.

It was the first time I tried playing the song on mandolin and the rhythm part was not difficult; however, I attempted to do the bass line and that was a little more difficult. I often use the bass line as a warm-up when I rarely play that instrument, but making the transition to mandolin was a little difficult as it was a paradigm shift.

There are several aspects to “Funk #49” that make it readily recognizable – the guitar work of Joe Walsh and the unison runs of Walsh’s guitar and Dale Peters’ bass . . . and don’t forget no one will ever say “more cowbell,” as “Funk #49 has a hefty dose of that percussive tool courtesy of Jim Fox.

The James Gang was truly a power trio and the album rides again features only help from one musician on one song. Steel guitarist Rusty Young plays on “There I Go Again.” During the heyday of the band with Joe Walsh at the helm, the band only garnered prominence in the Rust Belt.

“Funk #49” was the band’s second single, but do you remember their first? It was “Funk #48” from “Yer Album” in 1969. The significance of the name and numbers are unknown to me, but the latter was the bigger hit; however, it missed the Top 40 and charted at #59, and therefore, qualifies as our bubbling under hit.

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