Recorded at the then-brand-new Record Plant, the songs sound more authoritative and fun than ever before on our restored analog pressing. Mastered from the original analog tapes, pressed at RTI, and strictly limited to 4000 numbered copies, this 180g LP teems with involving textures, details, and depth hidden from view on prior pressings. The dimensional body and weight of the guitars, probing low-end of Dale Peters' bass lines, reedy timbre of Walsh's singing, and pacing of the crisp percussive cues are all enhanced. Increased separation between the instruments and airier, more open soundstaging add to the record's toe-tapping fun and seemingly unlimited groove quotient.
Walsh, without question, remains the biggest draw on Rides Again. The FM radio staple "Funk #49" – kick-started by the irresistible declaration "I sleep all day, out all night/I know where you're goin'" –continues to be identified by many as a Walsh solo tune. Yet it, as well as the sexual thrust of the head-bobbing "Woman" and proto-metal slash of the multi-part "The Bomber," fully represents the pure chemistry and locomotive momentum of the James Gang. With Walsh's Echoplex-equipped slide guitar making psychedelic- and blues-leaning comments, his mates pick up on the direction and answer with melodic responses.
Throughout the record, the trio's synergy clicks at every turn. Such interplay extends to the more diverse, country-tinged fare on Side B. Streaked with throaty organ passages and reflective moods, sincere midtempo ballads like "Tend My Garden" tease with rave-up structures and express a softer side of the group. Similarly, the acoustic-based "Garden Gate" and Jack Nitzsche-orchestrated "Ashes the Rain and I" showcase sincerity and diversity suggesting the James Gang prepared to defy limitations afforded most of its peers.
Yet Walsh's departure in 1971 changed the group's fortunes – and, by extension, upped the value of Rides Again, which survives as a near-flawless example of earnest 70s rock and organic playing.