Saturday, April 03, 2010

RAM JAM



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.

4 comments:

Dan said...

It is hard to believe they went away so quickly especially with the lack of good albums that were being released around that timeframe. I wasnt wearing any leisure suit but I definitely was not turned on to this band until much later. I agree with your assessment though. They were very good and had a great sound.

Bond said...

Swoosh is the sound I think of when I think of this band...as in swoosh went their career.

I agree, they never would have been chart toppers, even if they had come about 3-4 years earlier...but they would have garnered more success than they did.

Sean Coleman said...

Dan- They were excellent players. Hard to believe it was the guitarist from the Lemon Pipers that re-arranged that killer version of "Black Betty"

Bond-Swoosh just about sums it up. goes to show that sometimes the hardest act to follow can be your own.

Cleveland Jeff said...

Bill Bartlett was a fantastic guitar player and yes, he did the arrangement of Black Betty, a smokin' classic.