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Articles Home » 1977 Articles » Ram Jam - 1977 Ram Jam
Ram Jam - 1977 Ram Jam

ALBUM: Ram Jam
SERIAL: PE 34885
YEAR: 1977


LINEUP: Bill Bartlett - guitar, vocals * Howard Arthur Blauvelt - bass, vocals * Peter Charles - drums * Myke Scavone - percussion, vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Black Betty * 02 Let It All Out * 03 Keep Your Hands On The Wheel * 04 Right On The Money * 05 All For The Love Of Rock n Roll * 06 404 * 07 High Steppin' * 08 Overloaded * 09 Hey Boogie Woman * 10 Too Bad On Your Birthday

Bubblegum producers Jerry Kasenetz and Jeff Katz, who were responsible for numerous chewy pop hits from Crazy Elephant, The 1910 Fruitgum Co. and Ohio Express already knew future Ram Jam guitarist Bill Bartlett when he walked into their Long Island studio. Previously with The Lemon Pipers ('Green Tambourine'), Bartlett's psychedelic pop days were far behind him when he played Kasenetz and Katz a 45 from his then current band Starstruck. The song was a cover of blues legend leadbelly's 'Black Betty' done in a country rock style and no one was impressed, but with some prompting and intrigued with Bartlett's talents, the producers formed a band around the guitarist, beefed up 'Black Betty' and Ram Jam was born.

The Songs
And what a single it was. 'Black Betty' stormed up the charts riding a wave of controversy all the way to number 18 on Billboard's Top Twenty. Some radio stations refused to play the Black Oak Arkansas meets Brownsville Station styled cruncher with Black leaders condemning the song as degrading to women, in particular African American women. Ignorance is bliss as leadbelly was himself Black, but it didn't matter with some residual apprehension over the song still remaining today. So how does the rest of the album hold up in comparison? Beer bellied hard rock that shames everything BTO were doing at the time. Southern fried cuts like 'Let It All Out' bely the fact these guys were based in New Yawk while the Stonesy 'Keep Your Hands on the Wheel' and the immensely overlooked 'Overloaded' rock like greased lightning. Last but not least the cover of Tuff Darts 'All For The Love Of Rock 'N' Roll is a stroke of genius and contributing to what is without a doubt, one of the most impressive debut albums of 1977.

In Summary
A heavy tour schedule found Ram Jam supporting Robin Trower, Styx, BOC, Fleetwood Mac and Foreigner as well as prematurely headlining in St Louis over British legends UFO and local heroes Missouri. The brilliant 'Portrait Of An Artist As A Young Ram' followed in 1978 but Ram Jam never drew the same attention as they did in the previous summer with 'Black Betty' and seriously, who could top that?

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#1 | david on March 23 2010 01:07:25
Funny, i played the cd yesterday while going to work. Some great tunes,great overlooked band.
#2 | Eric on March 24 2010 21:37:01
There was a 12 inch disco version of 'Black Betty' released as well. It wasn't that bad actually...guitar
#3 | Eric on May 16 2010 03:41:06
Apparently drummer Peter Charles passed away in 2002.
#4 | rkbluez on January 02 2012 20:40:44
Rock Candy did ...Young Ram...wish they'd do this album also...I have it on a kind of 2 on 1 greatest hits disc and the sound is thin...would love to hear this remastered with some punch.
#5 | super80boy on November 03 2013 15:28:45
The single Black Betty is quite an electrifying update to the original and although no other songs could touch it on this debut, there are still some worthwhile moments sprinkled throughout.
#6 | gdazegod on November 11 2015 11:25:13
Ram Jam - 1977 Black Betty
#7 | reyno-roxx on November 11 2015 13:46:35
A later touring incarnation of Ram Jam (no original members!) would ultimately morph into Speedway Blvd with the addition of Roy Herring Jr on vocals.
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