The Forgotten Tape Box, Pt. 2: Jay Ferguson

First, let me say again what wonderful message board this is, the best I’ve ever seen. I will most certainly be a paying member very soon. :wink:

My first official post here was about me re-discovering Bob Seger’s Against The Wind album. To re-cap, I bought a new car (an '03 actually) which didn’t have a CD player, only a tape player, so I dug out an old box of tapes, which I hadn’t listen to in over 15 years. Against The Wind was the first tape I listened to, and boy was that fun!

The second tape I listened to was Captain Beyond (self titled debut, 1972). I used to really rock out to this when I was a teenager. I had high hopes when I popped it into the tape deck. Unfortunately, I was a little disappointed. One of my best friends almost clocked me when I said this, but oh well. It just sounds like a second rate Led Zeppelin. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good and well worth the listen, but it’s just not as good as I remember it. Anyway, I don’t want to get into a long review of it. If you havn’t heard Captain Beyond you definitely should.

The third tape I listened to was Jay Ferguson Thunder Island (1977). Oh shit, this is one hell of a good album! Until I looked at this tape, I had completely forgotten about Jay Ferguson, former lead singer/keyboard player of Spirit and Jo Jo Gunne. This is mid-70’s light rock at it’s best, ala The Eagles. Palm trees, boats, beaches, pretty women, beer, mustaches, funny clothes, a fat doobie, and some great melodies and music!

This album features some great musicians: Joe Walsh (guitar), Joe Vitale (drums), Joey Murcia (guitar), Tony Battaglia (bass), and others. Joe Walsh lays down some awesome slide guitar on this album.

All of these songs are great! Thunder Island (a Top 5 hit) in particular is outstanding, with that monster-of-a-hook chorus. Listening to that sound just brings a warm, happy feeling of sunshine and beaches, with a forgotten lover. :eek:

Losing Control is another great song, with some wicked Joe Walsh slide guitar. Think Thin Lizzy meets The Doobie Brothers. :wink:

Magic Moment has a hypnotic bass line and is pure rock/pop brilliance.

Night Shift has a little disco in it. I love that!

Soulin’ is a great piano ballad.

Hell all of these songs are great! There is not a bad song here at all!

Jay Ferguson is a great songwriter, a great singer, and a great keyboard player. He should have been much bigger back in the day, although he did have two big hits (Thunder Island and Shakedown Cruise). If you are an Eagles fan (or Joe Walks solo) you should definitely check this guy out. If you’re not, if don’t like soft rock with good harmonies and melodies, with sun-drenched lyrics, then pass. :wink:

BTW, Jay Ferguson quit his solo career in the early 80’s and went on to become a semi-big Hollywood soundtrack composer. His done a bunch of TV shows and Movies (Tremors fans: He did 2 & 4).

Anyway, that’s my lame review. What will the Forgotten Tape Box unleash next time? Stay tuned!


Whilst Joe Walsh is relatively well known, far fewer people have even heard of Jay Ferguson. It was with a smile, therefore, I read your post about these two guys. My own favourite Ferguson album is “All Alone in the End-Zone” in which Walsh’s guitar features largely. I’m old enough to have attended one of Walsh’s rare UK gigs and, at that time a very keen advocate of hallucinogens, covered is goose-bumps, I grinned like an idiot all the way through “Rocky Mountain Way”. In 1947 Capitol Records released a 78rpm record entitled “Sparky’s Magic Piano” The voice of the piano was generated by Sonovox, an early version of the talk box so loved by Walsh fans. According to my mum, as soon as I managed to crawl, I headed straight for the family ‘Gramaphone’ and pressed my ear to the hessian covering the speaker and I’ve stayed a music addict ever since. Later, my mum bought the “Sparky” record for me and I suppose this was the beginning of my life-long love of Talk Box guitar. If anyone reading this is similarly smitten, there’s an excellent cover version of “Rocky Mountain Way” on Ozzie Osbourne’s 2005 album “Under Cover” featuring Jerry Cantrell using an MXR Talk Box.

Old Farts? Who cares - nothing changes - Rock Rules.

Lord I do love Thunder Island. Sucker for a hook I am. Getting goose pimples just thinkin about it.

I’m a fan of Ferguson, but his solo work never topped his work with Spirit, one of the great unknown groups of the 60, and their Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus is one of the greatest rock albums of all time. The main difference is similar to the issues with the Beatles solo work: both groups had some great songwriters working together, but solo they couldn’t quite capture the magic.