Jo Jo Gunne – So … Where’s the Show? (1974): Forgotten Series

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Upon exiting Spirit in 1971, vocalist and keyboardist Jay Ferguson and bassist and vocalist Mark Andes founded Jo Jo Gunne. Comparisons to their former band were inevitable, but Jo Jo Gunne was not as eclectic as Spirit and concentrated on more of a standard rock approach.

Based in Los Angeles, the band got off to a promising start, as their debut album, Jo Jo Gunne was well received and included “Run, Run, Run,” which made the Top 30 in the spring of 1972. Although the next two albums – Bite Down Hard and Jumpin’ the Gunne – did not generate as much traction as the first effort, Jo Jo Gunne remained in the spotlight through excessive touring and were praised for their energized performances.

By the time Jo Jo Gunne’s fourth album, So … Where’s the Show? materialized, Ferguson and drummer Curly Smith were the only original members left in the band. Mark Andes fled the fold following the arrival of Jo Jo Gunne, and was replaced by Jimmie Randall. Guitarist Matt Andes split the scene in 1973, with Starr Donaldson temporarily filling the position.

John Staehely, who lent his licks to Spirit’s 1972 Feedback album, joined Jo Jo Gunne on So … Where’s the Show?, which should have signaled a new beginning for the band. But a combination of road weariness and underwhelming vinyl sales prompted to the quartet to dismantle in 1975.

Conveying a bit of a heavier grip than the band’s previous albums, So … Where’s the Show? (Asylum Records) fizzes with purpose and force. The interplay between the wild boogie-woogie piano drills and sizzling hot guitar gyrations is especially dynamic, creating a tapestry of tempos soaring and retreating with exhilaration.

Powered by galloping rhythms and a good natured ambience, the opening track, “Where Is the Show?” sets the pace for subsequent songs on the album. The trippy tones of a talk box pierce “She Said Allright” and “Into My Life” is punctured with a burst of angelic harmonizing.

Perhaps it is merely a coincidence, but the funky “I’m Your Shoe” bears a resemblance, both in sound and title, to “Those Shoes,” which appeared half a decade later on The Long Run album by the Eagles. Meanwhile, the spinning strokes of “All Around The World” wanders into a jammy progressive rock portal.

Surging onward and upward with lively vocals, kicking arrangements and bite down hard (pun intended) melodies, Jo Jo Gunne’s So … Where’s the Show? is archetypal early-’70s rock in all its party-central splendor.

On a postscript note, Jay Ferguson embarked on a solo career that produced hit singles such as “Thunder Island” and “Shakedown Cruise,” while Mark Andes enjoyed great commercial success with Firefall and Heart. Ditto for Smith, who has worked with folks like John Waite, Belinda Carlisle and Boston. In 2005, the original members of Jo Jo Gunne cut Big Chain, an album that indicated they had still had it in them to rock out with the best of the best.

Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson was born the day Ben E. King hit No. 4 with "Stand By Me" -- which is actually one of her favorite songs, especially John Lennon's version. She's contributed to Lance Monthly and Amplifier, and served as Rock Beat International's associate editor. Paterson has also published Inside Out, and Twist & Shake. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Beverly Paterson
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