Jump On It


Warner Brothers Records, 1976


REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


The cover was not the band's idea. That seems like the first piece of business necessary to address in reviewing Montrose's fourth album Jump On It, with its infamous Victoria's Secret-meets- Hustler cover.

As guitarist/bandleader Ronnie Montrose tells it in the liner notes to Rhino's The Very Best Of Montrose , "The song was written as a positive message: 'Jump on it!' "Be a lion!' 'Go get what you want and deserve from life!' Unfortunately, the company that did the graphics used a now-famous close-up of a model's, er, midsection, giving 'Jump On It' an entirely different twist." Still more unfortunate is this reality: the album is probably remembered as much for its cover art as for its music.

Following on the heels of the somewhat schizophrenic but predominantly dark Warner Bros. Presents album, Jump On Itmy_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 lightens things up considerably, benefiting from the clean, open production of Jack Douglas, who at the time was fresh from producing Aerosmith's Toys In The Attic. The lineup is also mostly intact, with vocalist Bob James, keyboardist Jim Alcivar and drummer Denny Carmassi returning. Only bassist Alan Fitzgerald is missing, gone to play keyboards with former Montrose frontman Sammy Hagar.

Drawing on his past once again, Ronnie Montrose brought in bassist Randy Jo Hobbs from the Edgar Winter Group to sit in on three tracks, and covered two songs ("What Are You Waiting For?" and "Rich Man") written by the EWG's Dan Hartman. Both Hartman tracks are solid, melodic rock, but don't seem to generate great enthusiasm from the band, especially James.

The leadoff cut "Let's Go," on the other hand, is to my ears the best track recorded by the Bob James edition of Montrose. Denny Carmassi brings back the tribal thump of "Paper Money" and Ronnie Montrose lays down some explosive slide guitar as James wails a lyric that's every bit as urgent and primal as that memorable first Montrose album. The title track is another blazing rocker, featuring a fierce, unique trebly/trembly guitar solo.

In spite of those momentary bright spots, however, the band was on its last legs. Hagar's departure and the uneven quality of Warner Bros. Presents had caused a significant fall-off in fan interest, even as the write-record-promote-tour grind had begun to wear on Ronnie Montrose. For the third album in a row he throws in an instrumental (the atmospheric "Tuft-Sedge"), a clear indication of the direction he was heading in musically, while his melancholy compositions "Music Man" and "Merry-Go-Round" speak frankly of the commercial pressures he was under and his desire to move on.

When the cover photo turned out to garner more attention than any other aspect of this album (it peaked at a disappointing #118), the band folded. Soon afterwards, Ronnie Montrose went into the studio to cut his first solo album -- without a vocalist in sight -- and recorded one of the best instrumental guitar albums in rock history (Open Fire). It surely wasn't the end for the band that fans might have predicted after their powerhouse 1973 debut, but in its own way, it was fitting. It would be eleven years, three Gamma albums and years of solo work before Ronnie Montrose would resurrect the Montrose name again.

Rating: B-

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© 2002 Jason Warburg and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Warner Brothers Records, and is used for informational purposes only.