Joe Jammer: Headway

Saints preserve us.

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Guitarist Joe Jammer’s back-story is much more interesting than his music. In his teenage years he roadied for Jimi Hendrix and The Who, then in 1969 he joined the crew of Led Zeppelin, becoming Jimmy Page’s guitar tech.

With the help of Zep manager Peter Grant and impresario Mickie Most, Jammer became an in-demand session guitarist. He even turned down the chance to join Aerosmith, or so these sleeve notes allege.

Jammer signed to EMI in 1973 and released a solo album, Bad News. Headway is its never-before-released follow-up, rescued from tapes found in his late mother’s basement. Featuring an impressive line-up, including drummer Mitch Mitchell and bassist John Gustafson, this would seem to have ‘undiscovered classic’ written all over it. Well, if it has, it’s in invisible ink.

Full of the kind of soporific early-70s funk rock popularised by the likes of the Kokomo, the unmistakable whiff of ‘muso’ lingers over each and every song. You can just picture the furrowed foreheads and serious-minded expressions as these hepcats spark up Marlboros and ‘lay down the groove’.

The strutting It Wasn’t Meant To Be at least has a modicum of attitude, while One For The Road is passably Free-like, even if the cowbell sounds like something attached to a Morris dancer’s trouser leg. As far as Joe Jammer is concerned, you’d be better off listening to Marmalade./o:p

Geoff Barton

Geoff Barton is a British journalist who founded the heavy metal magazine Kerrang! and was an editor of Sounds music magazine. He specialised in covering rock music and helped popularise the new wave of British heavy metal (NWOBHM) after using the term for the first time (after editor Alan Lewis coined it) in the May 1979 issue of Sounds.