Saturday, April 03, 2010
PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG RAM
Tight, straight up, late 70's rock and/or roll always goes down better than a second beer and Ram Jam delivered just that with their sophomore disc, which also turned out to be their last.
Their smoking overhaul of Leadbelly's "Black Betty" was a fair sized hit, earning them a profile, so it would stand to reason that a built in audience would be guaranteed for the next release.
Sadly, this would not be the case.
Despite best efforts, the reception for this one was practically non existent, consigning this talented bunch to the transit lounge filled with acts waiting to catch the next flight to further stardom, only to forever remain on stand by.
Perhaps the lack of a standout single was a factor in stalling the album, though that doesn't mean it isn't worthy. Quite the contrary, as a matter of fact. The playing is impeccable, the lyrics are without pretension and it sounds just as good as any hard rock record of that era. "Runway Runaway" is my pick, just for the lead work alone.
Lost classic? That seems to be the consensus amongst those who have written about it, though to be fair, no astonishing innovation is present save for the clever, Joycean title. Even with better promotion, they probably would have only had modest chart success at best. Echoes of Aerosmith and other purveyors of muscular, energetic riffage make for a decent spin, though. The coked up, leisure-suited set were far too preoccupied with the insistent, robotic charms of disco to take any notice. Rock was becoming the eccentric uncle who had to be told to "keep a bit more to the back" in family photos. Very shortly, the dreaded "dinosaur" tag would be stamped on groups of this ilk and chops would be traded for marketability in video clips.
Commercially stonewalled by an increasingly fickle marketplace, Ram Jam would call it a day after this, chalking up another instance of listener apathy stopping a good thing before it really had a chance to develop.