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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol 35 no. 20. 1972

Straight Shooter — James Gang

Straight Shooter — James Gang.

Back in 1865 Frank and Jesse James were two members of a relatively successful group called Quantrill's raiders. Leaving Quantrill they formed the James Gang, which began to show great promise, earnt them a lot of money, and was being closely followed by some respected authorities, when in 1881 tragedy struck and Jesse was killed in a shooting incident. This deep loss seemed to shatter the group, and nothing much more was heard of the James Gang until 1969 when Peter Townshend dragged them out of obscurity and took them with the Who on tour in England as his bodyguards, sub-machineguns in guitar cases. The trip was a bummer and once again they disapeared, and apart from one film appearance in Zacchariah (where incidentally the one track they played is the best I've heard from them) haven't been seen again since.

So we come to Straightshooter which seems to imply they have been practicing. Start side one - lyrical gems explode in sensory awareness:

"The world is one big junkie and needs just one big fix Everybody's hustlin' someone trying' to get their kicks Madness, madness When's it gonna go away"

follows description of what the world's comint to, with stabbings and rapes down the hall (so what's happening in the streets?) followed by retrogression to non-cognitive kineticism, self-sympathy promotes arrogance

"I'm your kickback man
As you think you wanna go home little girl?
Ah, but you see I can't let you go yet
You ain't goin' nowhere"

shivers of excitement from the Junior Freaks, as the Gang get into their really heavy scene on the next track

"I don't know where I'm goin'
I don't know where I've been"

Reached up to touch my lady, but she wasn't there no more swings into a rocky rhythm, vocalist managing to catch the desperation of the situation and I'm into it and he hits me with a sort of Hey Joe (Hendrix,) switch and I'm floored — this is really quite a good track, even if the music is a (yawn) trifle uninteresting.

Side two achieves a definite lift in musical quality, for which the answer lies, I think, in the inclusion of bassist Dale Peters composing for most of this side. First track here gets away from trash. Track two retains this good ordinary music, (high-pitched voice trying to carry off bad situation badly — Bette Davis slips on a banana skin—giggle from Junior Freaks (—what! still here?) and......

Suddenly I almost fall off ray seat — metaphysical vision — I won't try to explain — but Hendrix hears his train a comin'. These guys are standing on the station waiting for it, and if it don't come they'll walk it — not brilliant, but compared to the rest of the rubbish on this LP., interesting interplay of will-consciousness, self-evaluated metaphysical — wow— I do so hope it wasn't a joke. And so into (under) the last track, and such pretentious crap I'll never pretend to having heard — Dale Peters not credited with this one — My Door is Open — and out hurtles my latest review record.

—Grant Mazengrab