With Joe Walsh having decided to pursue a solo career, 1972's "Passin' Thru" was the second studio set by the Jim Fox, Roy Kenner, Dale Peters, and Domenic Troiano James Gang line-up. Co-produced by the band and Keith Olsen, if you were looking for something on a par with the band's first three classic releases, this was probably going to be a disappointment. That said, if you could accept the album as a James Gang, MK II product, it certainly had moments that were enjoyable. This time out Kenner and Troiano were responsible for all nine tracks (Kenner and Troiano both penned two songs on their own and collaborated on the remaining seven selections). The results offered up an okay mix of early-1970s AOR (check out 'One Way Street' and 'Up To Yourself'') and country-tinged numbers ('Run, Run, Run'). I'll admit that the revamped line-up lacked some of the Walsh-era group's originality, but about half of the LP was enjoyable (side one was better than side two). Kenner displaying some nice vocal chops throughout the set, but at least to my ears the biggest surprise came in the form of Troiano's contributions. He certainly wasn't Joe Walsh (though the voice box effects on 'Everybody needs a Hero' were a nice nod to Walsh), but so what ? Troiano was a more than capable lead guitarist and whatever he may have lacked in flash, he made up for with versatility.
- With a bouncy, good-timey vibe the rocker 'Ain't Seen Nothing Yet' was actually one of the weaker selections. This one just didn't have anything going for it and actually sounded like it had been stitched together from existing songs. rating: ** stars
- Opening up with some surprisingly funky Troiano lead guitar (be sure to check out Peters' bass line), 'One Way Street' morphed into a nice blues-rocker that served to showcase Troiano's fluid and versatile leads. Having a slinky hook that crawled into your head certainly didn't hurt the song. rating: *** stars
- 'Had Enough' started out with some Joe Walsh-styled guitar moves, but then opened up into one of the album's most commercial numbers. With a strong melody, some nice Jim Fox stabbing keyboards, and another nice Kenner vocal, this was one I find myself humming from time to time. rating: **** stars
- Even more commercial rocker, 'Up To Yourself' had an instantly catchy title refrain that would have made a nice choice as a single. rating: *** stars
- 'Everybody Needs a Hero' was an out-and-out pop number with a funky edge that featuring some excellent Powers bass and Troiano throwing out some Walsh-styled voice-box effects. rating: *** star
- A stark country-tinged ballad complete with Weldon Myrick pedal steel guitar and Charlie McCoy harmonica,, 'Run, Run, Run' was pretty enough, but just too country for my tastes. rating: ** star
- A harpsichord opening would normally have instantly won me over, but 'Things I Want To Say To You' simply never kicked into gear. Complete with elaborate string arrangement (courtesy of Craig Sapphins), the song was simply too precious for its own good, though Kenner sounded quite good on the song. rating: ** stars
- A breezy, west coast sounding pop-rock song with a strange pseudo-reggae chorus, 'Out of Control' sounded like something a band like Pablo Cruise might have recorded. Pleasant, but ultimately kind of anonymous. rating: ** stars
- The acoustic guitar opening chords of 'Drifting Girl' have always reminded me of something off one of Jan Akkerman's solo albums. The rest of the song was a forgettable country-rock tinged ballad that sounded like a throwaway Dan Fogelberg number. It would have made a nice soundtrack for a life insurance commercial. Yech. rating: ** stars
Nowhere near a classic James Gang LP and certainly not the place for a neophyte to start, but once you've explored the Walsh and Tommy Bolin-era line-ups it might be worth a quick spin (plus you can still find copies on the cheap).
In spite of lukewarm reviews and the absence of a hit single (ABC didn't even bother releasing a 45), the collection proved a decent seller, hitting # 72 on the US album charts.
"Yer' Album" track listing:
1.) Ain't Seen Nothing Yet (Roy Kenner) - 2:59
2.) One Way Street (Domenic Troiano) - 4:26
3.) Had Enough (Roy Kenner) -3:00
4.) Up To Yourself (Domenic Troiano) - 2:43
5.) Everybody Needs a Hero (Roy Kenner - Domenic Troiano) - 6:06
1.) Run, Run, Run (Roy Kenner - Domenic Troiano) - 3:44
2.) Things I Want To Say To You (Roy Kenner - Domenic Troiano) - 3:41
3.) Out of Control (Roy Kenner - Domenic Troiano) - 3:39
4.) Drifting Girl (Roy Kenner - Domenic Troiano) - 5:09