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Bang/Miami *
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  • This BGO 2014 two-fer pairs the James Gang's 1973 album Bang and its 1974 follow-up Miami -- in other words, the two albums the James Gang made with guitarist Tommy Bolin instead of Joe Walsh. Despite the galumphing "Ride the Wind," Bang does feel quite a bit different than its predecessors: Bolin is a more expansive guitarist who also was willing to dip into sentiment, as he did on the lovely "Alexis," and there are times Bang flirts with the open roads of the Allmans and the laid-back groove of the Doobies, decidedly '70s wrinkles that remain appealing. Miami contains some aspects of this rambling -- it opens with a song called "Cruisin' Down the Highway," after all -- but there's a slightly heavier dose of heavier rock, from the party rallying cry "Do It" to the trippy, slightly malevolent "Sleepwalker." Ultimately, these records are not quite the James Gang, not quite Bolin, but are worthwhile '70s hard rock artifacts. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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