When Roy Kenner and Tommy Bolin left the James Gang in 1974, the group’s powerhouse rhythm section — drummer Jim Fox and bassist Dale Peters, who had driven the group since 1969 — finally decided to throw in towel. However, a meeting with Texas-reared vocalist Bubba Keith changed their minds, and they reformed the group in 1975 to record Newborn. Keith was a lusty howler in the mold of Paul Rodgers, and he made the group feel ripped in a way they hadn’t since Joe Walsh’s departure. To fill the vacant guitar chair they hired Richard Shack, who knew Fox and Peters from their days together at Cleveland Heights High. Having a native Clevelander in the group definitely brought the group back to its roots, and Newborn adopts a resolutely back-to-basics approach. The band’s dry, thrusting attack is akin to Bad Company and Foreigner and other giants of the day. The big-block groove hums on “Red Satin Lover,” “Shoulda Seen Your Face,” “Driftin Dreamer” and “Earthshaker,” all of which benefit from the naturalistic touch of legendary Atlantic engineer Tom Dowd.

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