Released Feb 2nd  2015!





JOE JAMMER-guitar and vocals


JOHN GUSTAFSON-bass guitar

JOHNNY CONTARDO*-vocals (lead)

BROTHER JAMES-percussion


POLI PALMER-vibes and flute

· Johnny Contardo courtesy of Sha Na Na

Produced arranged and mixed by JOE JAMMER

Engineered by KEITH HARWOOD

Top Tape Operator BENNY KING

Recorded at Olympic Studios, London 1974

Licensed exclusively for the world and solar system

to Angel Air Records by Joe Jammer

Mitch Mitchell


Johnny Contardo












'It Wasn't Meant To Be'

                                               'HEADWAY' sleeve notes


   Joe Jammer isn’t someone who skulks into a room. When he enters, he overflows a tidal wave of bonhomie, optimism and stories. You can sense this when you chat with him on the phone. Or, rather, you can sense this when you listen to his fountain of facts, trivia and anecdotes. Especially when you find out the true story behind this remarkable album. One, that he's very excited it’s finally going to get a proper release four decades after it was recorded and prepared on the launch pad, only to find the launch pad was dismantled before his very eyes and ears.

   “I'm so pleased for those involved that it will finally come out,” he says. “Not necessarily for myself, because I've already had my days in the sun. But for everyone else who did such a great job here.”

 Now, before we get on to the album itself, let's backtrack and get some history into those proverbial nostrils. Joe Jammer was born Joe Wright on the south side of Chicago. And he took guitar lessons from the age of nine.

“My dad was a combat sailor in World War II, and when he told me and my siblings (one brother, one sister) that I was gonna have instrument lessons for two years, I knew that's what I had to do. No arguing. But at least I ended up doing this on the guitar. If I had taken accordion lessons, then none of what happened later would have occurred. I'd probably be about to release my latest polka album or something!”
   In the end, the fledgling rock 'n' roller took lessons for seven years. But by the time he was 12, Wright was already being paid to play, and the rock bug had bitten down hard.

   “I was roadying for Jimi Hendrix by the time I was 16 years old. I used to hold up his amps at the back while he attacked them from the front! I was then working with The Who at the age of 17 and Led Zeppelin when I was 18. In fact, I owe everything to Zeppelin.”

It was Jimmy Page who gave the budding talent the name of Joe Jammer.

   “I know Robert Plant says he came up with it, but that came from Jimmy. Why? Because that's what I used to do a lot - jam. I was Jimmy’s guitar tech after starting as Bonzo’s drum roadie. In fact,  I was probably the first guitar tech ever. Before me, there were roadies and the band. Nothing else. In those days, roadies never hung out with the musicians. They were treated as second class.”

   Jammer was organising weekly jam nights at the famed Kinetic Playground in Chicago when he met Zeppelin, and his life would eventually change forever.

   “These jam nights happened every Tuesday, and this was one of a chain of venues around America.  And it was when I got involved with Zeppelin that I was advised to go to London. I told Jimmy that I wanted to break into the music industry, and he said that I had to go to London to do that if I wanted his help. So, I took his advice and landed at Heathrow Airport on November 15, 1969. One interesting thing was that it was only when I came to London that my eyes were opened to Chicago blues. Jimmy took me under his wing and made me realise the importance of the Chicago club blues scene.”

   Jammer's close connection to the Zeppelin camp was to stand him in strong stead in his new locale. Peter Grant took a close interest in helping to develop his career.

“He was overseeing things, and working closely with Mickie Most, who was more directly involved with me at the time. They sat behind desks on the opposite side of the same office. Both were great for me to have on my side. It was like being part of a family.”

   Jammer firmly established himself as the pre-eminent session guitarist in London, taking over the mantle from Page himself.

   “Jimmy actually handed all the work over to me he wasn't able to fulfil, because he no longer had the time, as Zeppelin were becoming so big. In a 10 year period, I did sessions for over 150 albums, and worked with some of the biggest names in music.  These included Mick Jagger, Ringo Starr, Jerry Lee Lewis among so many others.

“I was also the original guitarist on 'Tommy' when it was put on as a show at the Rainbow in London.”

    Such was his vast reputation and burgeoning cv that Jammer could even afford to turn down the chance of joining Aerosmith during their formative days.

“I knew Joe Perry, and was instrumental in getting the band together. They asked me to join. But I didn't want to be tied down to being in just one band. As far as I was concerned, I loved working with people while it was fun. As soon as it didn't seem to be enjoyable anymore, then I was off. The last thing I needed was to be committed to a single band. But I always knew Aerosmith would be very big, and put them in touch with Brad Whitford.”

   Jammer was signed to EMI and released a solo album in 1973. Called 'Bad News', this was recorded at Abbey Road Studios. It featured a host of top quality musicians, including drummer Reg Isidore, bassist Tony Stevens and keyboard player Jean Roussel. And one Alan Parsons was employed as the engineer on the project.

“Alan was not only working on my album, but at the same time was also with Pink Floyd in another studio and Paul McCartney & Wings in a third one. He was the house engineer for Abbey Road, so would run from one studio to another. He would later go on to have his own success with the Alan Parsons Project, of course.”

   Now, it was Jammer who sung on the 'Bad News' album, and it says a lot about the label's trust in his abilities that they let him handle the vocals himself, despite having no track record in that respect.

   “I had spent ages in early 1973 looking for a suitable singer when I had a band with Mitch Mitchell on drums, Rick Gretch on bass and (multi-instrumentalist) 'Poli' Palmer, who was a member of Family. But we couldn't find one… (This unnamed band eventually didn't get off the ground). So, when I got to the album, I told EM I was gonna do the singing myself, and they just let me. Can you imagine that happening these days? But it all worked out really well.”
Such was the label's ongoing faith in Jammer that they even agreed to pay the studio costs when he suggested recording the second album at Olympic Studios in West London.

“EMI owned Abbey Road. So, they never had to pay out costs for their own artists in there. But that studio always came across as something of a laboratory, with engineers walking around in white coats. Not a great environment for someone like me. So, a bunch of us went over to Olympic, which is where I wanted to do what became the 'Headway' album.”
   Now, for the sessions on this new album, Jammer assembled something of a stellar line-up. In fact, when you see who he got involved, it makes you catch your breath in admiration.

“On drums I had Mitch Mitchell. We'd become very close after Hendrix died, and I was living at the time at his place in Surrey. And all through that time I was actually using some of Hendrix's guitars and amps… something not very well known.

“I loved the way that Mitch played. There was so much fire in his performances, and that made him stand apart from most others on the scene. He combined really well with John Gustafson, who played bass on the album. John had been with such bands as The Big Three from Liverpool, and his playing style was very much in the Tamla Motown mould. He and Mitch were great together.”

Jammer also had Fitzroy 'Brother' James on percussion, adding an African sensibility to the sound. While on keyboards, Jean Roussel was again in the hot seat, a choice that made total sense.

   “He was the first black session guy in London to make it rich from his playing, and a super master. Jean was with Cat Stevens as musical director for 10 years, and gave my sound a real funk injection. He also had a huge afro haircut. So much so that he had to cut a hole in the roof of his Aston Martin to accommodate it. I know a lot of people couldn't believe he did this to such a car. But, hey, he was a rock 'n' roll individual, and followed his own rules.”

   And completing the line-up was vocalist Johnny 'Kid' Contardo.

“He was in Sha Na Na at the time. They did a doo-wop style of ‘50’s American rock & roll. Playing at Woodstock had made them a major name.”

   By the time he was ready to record his second album in 1974, Jammer had already tasted success in his own right through The Olympic Runners, a band born out of Olympic Studios as well, and put together by producer/record label owner Mike Vernon, someone who also did a lot to help Jammer along the way.

   “We were a funk band based in London, and recorded six Lp’s, did the theme song for Joan Collins’ film “The Bitch”, and did an extensive tour of the U.K..”

   But despite al the hopes and confidence in 'Headway', it didn't become a massive seller... well, that's a little misleading. Who knows what it might had achieved had it actually been released!                 Because, believe it or not, this album never actually got a release anywhere on planet Earth. It disappeared, to become the stuff of myth. So, what went wrong?

   “Well, just before the album was released, I was doing a two week series of shows at a club in Dusseldorf, Germany. I was working in a new band, who would tour to promote the album. I had Bobby Tench on vocals and Jerome Rimson on bass, Peter Van Hook on drums & Brother James on percussion. We were playing at the club ‘Gypsy’, owned by the brother of Monika Danneman, the girl who Jimi Hendrix died in the arms of… But I hit problems when trying to return to England.”

   This was a visa problem. Ever since he had first come over in 1969, Jammer had existed on a series of temporary visas. But despite promises, no permanent visa was ever forthcoming.

“Peter Grant told me that he would sort out the necessary paper work. But then Zeppelin became so massive they took up all of his time, and he never had the chance to get it all done. So nothing was done to get me the visa I needed.”
   His luck had finally run out, and on this occasion, Jammer wasn't allowed back in the U.K., despite having lived in London by this point for five years. And, without the main man ready and willing to give his own full support to the album, EMI simply lost interest. So, it was never put out, and seemed to just fade away. And there the story might have ended, had not the vagaries and unpredictability’s of fortune finally taken him by the hand and led him on a voyage of reconnection.

   “My mother died a couple of years ago, and I had to return to the house in Chicago to go through all my stuff in her basement. It took me six trips to get everything sorted. And I came across so many seemingly lost gems, which I hope will now finally get out into the public domain through one means or another.  But one of the most exciting discoveries I made was the recordings for this album.”

   However, finding the tapes was only the first step along the way. As this was recorded when Jammer was under contract to EMI,  he naturally assumed that they would own the rights, and there would need to be a buy out before he could think about getting it released. Yet, this wasn't the case.

   “Since I was on the label, EMI have gone through so many changes and different owners, and as a result they told Peter Parnell of Angel Air Records there was literally no paperwork in existence any more about the ownership of the album. That was a big break for me, as I now had their permission to do what I liked with the tape. That's why I decided to take it to Angel Air, who did such a fine job on the re-issue of my cd/ dvd with Nobody's Business.”

   Jammer has no delusions of grandeur about 'Headway'.

“It's not a lost Beatles album, or anything like that. But in its own right, I am glad this will finally be heard by people.  I'm immensely proud of what we did. It's got r&b and rock roots. The songs are brilliant and there are some real mega ballads here. The sort of tracks which might have been or might become big hits. It's such a shame that both Mitch and John Gustafson are now dead, as I think it's among the best work they have ever done. To me, it's certainly the finest playing you'll hear from Mitch after his work with Hendrix, and he once told me that he had the most fun with me he ever had with anyone, aside from Hendrix. I loved that little guy!

   “And Johnny Contardo didn't do much creatively after Sha-Na-Na, either. For everyone involved, this is very exciting. Not just for me. And it's also the last major unheard album to be recorded at Olympic with the legendary team of engineer Keith Harwood and Benny King as assistant.            So, I would say that 'Headway' is at least historical, if not hysterical!”

Malcolm Dome

London, October 2014








feedback from satisfied customers:




Where Has This Album Been My Whole Life?! Wow. 25 Feb. 2015

By Rachel Bremilst - Published on

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase

This album is a genuine hidden treasure. What a shame that the world didn't get to hear it until now! It was recorded in the 1970s and was finally just released. Thanks goodness Joe found it!! The musicians that came together made what, in my opinion- can be categorized as a 'super group' along the lines of the Travelling Wilburys or The Power Station. There's Joe Jammer, Johnny Gustafson, Mitch Mitchell (!) and Johnny Contardo (!!)as well as Jean Roussel. These incredible artists all gave this album a distinctive sound. Funky, sexy, bluesy and flat-out rocking. Truthfully, I purchased it solely because Johnny Contardo of Sha Na Na is the lead vocalist. I adore his voice and grew up a fan of Sha Na Na. Johnny's singing is at times soaring and at others gritty and soulful. It is SUCH a pity that this wasn't released when it should have been. It would have been a monster hit! I have always enjoyed all of Johnny's music- with Sha Na Na as well as his solo albums, "Changeover" and "Ballads for Lovers." THIS album is now my favorite. He and Joe made magic together. I would have loved to have watched them during its recording. This disc is truly a must have for his fans- OR for anyone who loves music performed the way it should be.

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Sheila & John Smith  Great album, 'Not Tonight' is awesome. 


Steven Stathopulos Loved it!!! Strong vocals too...Thanks Joe!!! Can you tell us a little background on this track? When, where, and with who?


Dominique Lefranc j'adore 


Caroline McLeod Like the Cool Breeze Joe!!


Chris Bradford  Bought it,heard it and loved it ! Nice one Joe.


Bob Perschau  listening to it now in the office on headphones. Can't wait to get home and let it crank on the system at home.


Jim Cummings Loved reading your history...WOW!


Stephen Gardner  SURREY TV This is fantastic! Totally lifts the spirit and injects great energy into the soul! Fab stuff Joe!


Mike Wurst So cool.


Martin Trlak Sounds great Joe! Best of luck!



By Susan Giancola on March 30, 2015

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase

The cd is awesome for something that was recorded back in 1974, forgotten about and then released in February. It features a soon to be 23 year old Johnny Contardo back when he was with Sha Na Na. Awesome stuff!!!


Well worth the wait
By Lynda Supanich on April 12, 2015
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
An excellent piece of work. I was expecting rock and got more funk, which was great. One can easily see that this was ahead of its time by a few years. Outstanding piece of work! Too bad we had to wait this long to hear it, but all good things are worth waiting for.


Nancy Zook Hoke Yesterday while was driving home from MA, I played "Headway" all the way home! So I listened to it for almost 6 hours straight. After listening to it all the way home and today. I think I'm an expert. I LOVE the entire CD. We want More, More, More


Chris Greves I really like that cd! Blues/funk/soul .. Great guitar work... And the icing on the cake is having Johnny Contardo singing .. I'd highly recommend this cd

Great guitar work on the cd . And great guitar tones .. A very well recorded cd .. I'm glad this was finally released ..



GREAT 1970S ROCK N ROLL....................................

By Edward J. mccarthy Jr. on April 4, 2015

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase

this is a very good long lost recording by joe that has finally seen the light of day, also what helped me decide to go for this was the line up for this record some 41 years a go, when i see names like JOHN GUSTAFSON, MITCH MITCHELL AND JOHNNY CONTARO, i knew this had to be good, the press release says jimmy page gave joe his stage name ( jammer) but i never saw or had heard that before, anyway the guitar playing on this record is flawless and the remastering that was done for these old recordings is just amazing, this to me sounds like real good 70s boogie tight rock n roll, how this band went over live i can only imagine. anyway i have not read the booklet that comes with this cd yet but there is about an 8 page booklet in the inlay that im sure tells you more a bout this release then i can, i am only hearing this for the first time NOW as i write this and joe sure was a force to reckon with back in these days, this is a very well put together record and WHY this was not released at least 40 years a go is a mystery to me, anyway we have it now and im really enjoying this, if you are a 70s rocker stream some of these songs online, after that im maybe 75% sure you may buy this cd as it is that good!!!!! very smooth vocals by the way!!!!!!




By HAYLING BOOK & MUSIC VENUE (follow us on Facebook) TOP 500 REVIEWER on 5 Mar. 2015

Format: Audio CD

Joe was a prominent session man in the Seventies - no doubt we all have albums featuring his work without realising it.

This is HIS moment to shine. Accompanied by Mitch Mitchell on drums, John Gustafson on bass and Poli Palmer (ex-Blossom Toes) on flute and vibes, we are presented with an album loaded with Johnny Contardo's distinctive vocals, Joe's superb songwriting, highly accomplished musicianship and some beautiful rock and funk.

There are some truly great moments here, the highlight for me being the closing track, 'Not Tonight', a very special composition which, had it seen the light of day at the time, could have been a staple classic.






                                                           Gut Feeling Magazine


                                                                        Joe Jammer - Headway (2015, Angel Air Records)

              This previously unreleased 1974 recording by guitarist Joe Jammer might stir classic rock fans' interest for featuring none other than Mitch  Mitchell of The Jimi Hendrix Experience on drums; but there's certainly more to discover here.

"Headway" is a solid effort which infuses gentle funk into the catchy rock songs. At times the album sounds a bit like 1975 Deep Purple ( Come Taste the Band lineup, with Glenn Hughes and Tommy Bolin), with the easy going yet confident funk rock of "Can't Yer Catch?" and "Cool Breeze" as well as the keyboard drenched "Travellin'" serving as prime examples. There's a rare stylistic approach to rock demonstrated here - an approach a few have practiced to our knowledge; and since it is performed effectively this is certainly appraisable.

While the sound quality is not perfect, the songs are easily enjoyable, and if you are a classic rock aficionado you would not want to miss this!





                                                                                    Sea Of Tranquillity



Jammer, Joe: Headway

Chicago guitarist/vocalist Joe Wright might not be a household name, but he's been an integral part of the music scene for over four decades. Originally the guitar tech for Led Zeppelin during the early '70s while he was just a teenager, Joe was given the nickname 'Joe Jammer' by none other than Jimmy Page, and the name stuck. After Page became too busy with the success of Zeppelin, Jammer took over the mantle of most used session guitarist in London, working on over 150 recordings during a 10 year span that saw him appear on albums by Mick Jagger, Ringo Starr, Jerry Lee Lewis, and many others. Joe also was asked to join the original line-up of Aerosmith, and appeared on the original stage show of Tommy at the Rainbow in London. Initially signed to a solo deal by EMI in 1973, the guitarist recorded his first album with mild success, but had big plans for his second release, Headway, which featured drummer Mitch Mitchell (Jimi Hendrix Experience), bassist John Gustafson ( The Big Three, Ian Gillan Band, Roxy Music, Quatermass, Hard Stuff), vocalist Johnny Contardo (Sha Na Na), keyboard player Jean Roussel (Cat Stevens), Brother James on percussion, and Poli Palmer on vibes & flute. Unfortunately, the album was never released, until now thanks to the folks at AngelAir Records.

Listening to Headway, you can only shake your head and think about the complete missed opportunity that this never saw the light of day back in 1974. Could Jammer's visa issues that made the prospect of touring impossible and the labels' subsequent disinterest in the album have been overcome to get the album released to the public? We'll never know, but thankfully it's out now to finally be enjoyed. Headway is a memorable, fun album that mixes funk, jazz, blues, hard rock, and pop, not too far from what the Jeff Beck Group where doing at the same time. Jammer's tasty guitar licks permeate the album, but are never showy, the rhythms have tons of groove, and vocals strong, and the keyboards give plenty of texture and color. Just check out that funky clavinet and gritty guitar work on the upbeat "Cool Breeze", a must hear for any fan of Jeff Beck or Tommy Bolin, and jazz-fusion lovers will totally dig "Axe me Another (Don't Lose Your Head)". Of course, if you want to hear Jammer's skills in the hard rock realm, check out the blistering "The Watcher Laments" (along with some stellar Hammond organ courtesy of Roussel), the groove laden ripper "Can't Yer Catch?", or the mix of pop and heavy rock on the catchy "It Wasn't Meant To be" for plenty of tasty licks.

AngelAir gives you the whole story of Joe Jammer and the album in the informative booklet, but it's the high class music that's the main attraction here. From start to finish, this is superb funk/jazz/rock/pop music that should have been huge back in 1974. The story of Joe Jammer didn't end here though, as he went on to great success with Olympic Runners and Nobody's Business later in the '70s, and to this day continues to record & gig around London.

See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!

Track Listing 
1. Broken Little Pieces 
2. Can't Yer Catch? 
3. Alive Another Day 
4. Afraid To Make A Friend 
5. It Wasn't Meant To be 
6. Travellin' 
7. One For The Road 
8. Cool Breeze 
9. Axe me Another (Don't Lose Your Head) 
10. The Watcher Laments 
11. Not Tonight

Added: January 3rd 2015
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Artist @ AngelAir Records
Hits: 570
Language: english




                                       DME LET IT ROCK!


JOE JAMMER – Headway




Four decades on since its recording, long-lost slice of British funk comes up for savoring.

Having progressed from a roadie for the likes of LED ZEPPELIN who’d brought him from the US to the UK, Joe Jammer became enough of a star to secure a solo deal and release “Bad News” back in 1972 which is considered a cult classic now, overdue for reissue. The future looked bright but, with an album title like that, karma backfired, and while this album could have taken Joe to the top, Jammer went down due to his visa issues, so the record was shelved only to resurface right in time for its 40th anniversary. And it was worth the wait.

“Headway” is radically different from its predecessor: while Joe’s debut sounds like a guitarist’s album, Jammer’s approach here is one of a composer and arranger. Delegating vocal duties to the soulful pipes of SHA NA NA’s Johnny Contardo, he shifts the focus to the muscular, if sensual, rhythm section of John Gustafson and Mitch Mitchell who swing rather fiercely in the prophetic “It Wasn’t Meant To be” leaving the main man just enough space in the groove to unfurl an effervescent, if concise, solo or go cinematic with the sonic grit of “Travellin’.” Still, “Cool Breeze” pitches enough rocking into the context, whereas blues licks are woven into the very fabric of “Can’t Yer Catch?”.

There’s an infectiously slow drive in “Afraid To Make A Friend” and the drift, caressed with Jean Roussel’s organ, gets smooth and lyrical with “Alive Another Day” which demonstrates the band’s supple dynamics – on jazzy terms, just like the piano-rippled uplift of “Axe Me Another (Don’t Lose Your Head)”. Yet it’s “The Watcher Laments” that wraps it all in a tasty ‘n’ catchy, handclaps-helped heaviness of hit proportions, before “Not Tonight” marries its weighty riff to a dramatic flight worthy of an albatross. Fortunately, “Headway” didn’t become that for its creator, a session player of some renown nowadays; and as this scribe seems to have reconnected Joe Jammer with Johnny Contardo, who knows – maybe one day they’ll deliver a new gem



                    TIGHT BUT LOOSE MAGAZINE


Joe Jammer –  Headway (Angel Air) – due out February 2nd, 2015.

It was a great pleasure to interview Joe Jammer last year for the TBL magazine. The former Zep roadie and guitar tech, who by his own admission owes it all to Zeppelin, told the colourful story of how after a run of work with Page and co, he came over to the UK under the wing of Peter Grant. Joe’s liaison with Mickie Most led on to his first solo album Bad News album released in 1973 on Regal Zonophone.

Joe then assembled a stellar cast of musicians to record his second solo album at Olympic Studios Barnes in 1974 – including the late Mitch Mitchell (drummer for the Jimi Hendrix Experience), John Gustafson (bass player for The Big Three, Roxy Music), Johnny Contardo (vocalist for Sha Na Na), Jean Rousell keyboards, Poli Palmer vibes and flute and Brother James percussion. The late Keith Harwood who worked with Zep did the engineering.

Due to visa problems at the time, Joe returned to the US and plans by EMI to release the album were scrapped. A couple of years back, Joe discovered the tapes  and set about getting them released. Enter the excellent reissue label Angel Air who have wisely taken the option to make this long lost album widely available. February 2nd will see the belated release of Headway – the lost and now found Joe Jammer second album.

Along with the build up for the reissue of Physical Graffiti, playing through it this week has kept me well and truly in the mid 70s retro zone -and it’s been a rather delightful place to be.

The opening brace of tracks Broken Little Pieces and Can’t You Catch sets the stall out with an urgent incessant bass line, funky guitar and suitably complimentary rhythmic drumming and tasteful Joe Jammer guitar licks. There’s a strong indication from these showings, that Joe would make a perfect fit for the Brit funk outfit The Olympic Runners in the late 70s.

What we have here is very much in the tasteful funky rock mode served up at the time by the likes of Little Feat and The Average White Band. There’s also an undeniable soulful rock influence coming in from Swan Songer’s Bad Company and Maggie Bell. Not too surprising given that Joe was hanging around such players.

In fact , the stirring It Wasn’t Meant To Be would not have been out of place on the first Bad Co album.

Elsewhere,Travellin’ has some Page like effects and deploys a bass arrangement that recalls to mind The Rolling Stones Fingerprint File. One For The Road opens with gospel like piano before demonstrating a pleasing restraint and. Cool Breeze retains the funk feel in urgent fashion -the solo echoing the swing and verve of Jimmy’s work on The Wanton Song.

The undoubted highlights for me are the back to back tasteful ballads Alive Another Day and Afraid To be a Friend.

The former has some attractive flute interjections from Family’s Poli Palmer, a  Marvin Gaye-ish falsetto vocal and a dreamily reflective solo at the close. The latter, with finger clicks and prominent keys  is a heady mix of blue eyed soul before being lit up by some lyrical guitar playing– both tracks coupled together would have made a great double A side.

Had it have been released in 1974, this album it would have fitted neatly into the white funk rock movement of the time –however, commercial success may not have been entirely forthcoming with the onset of punk just around the corner, but there’s no doubt a live appearance on the Old Grey Whistle Test would have had Bob Harris whispering that Headway was a ‘’fine album’’ as was his oft used description.

40 years on, Headway does indeed sound a fine album and a nostalgic throwback to a period in the mid 70s when honesty and purity of playing was the order of the day – and Joe Jammer as he still is today, was one of its most hard working practitioners.

Dave Lewis  – January 19th, 2015

Check out Joe’s gigs around south London and beyond – see details at:





Angel Air

This guy has so much history behind him the book could go on for years! Given his name by none other than Jimmy Page when he started working for them as a drum roadie on a USA tour as Led Zeppelin were touring to promote their first album, he moved up to become Jimmy’s guitar technician. And that happened after he had been roadying for Jimi Hendrix before he was even sixteen and The Who at seventeen! The story goes that Jimmy Page recommended Joe (formerly Joe Wright) to their manager Peter Grant who took him to London from Chicago to record a solo album which was released on Regal Zonophone in 1973. The second album was recorded with a line-up including Mitch Mitchell, John Gustafason. Recorded in 1974 the album never saw release due to complications on work permits. His background is well explored in the sleeve notes by Malcolm Dome with this album including how he turned down the chance to join the formative Aerosmith, played on over 150 albums as session guitarist, played guitar in Tommy when it was a London Rainbow show. He was in the Olympic Runners band formed by Mike Vernon, they released six albums as a funk band and even recorded the theme song to Joan Collins’ film The Bitch. The music here then certainly stands the test of time after being ‘lost’ and only recently re-discovered then after sorting out where it stood legally to be tackled by Angel Air to bring it technically up to date. It is not a blues album but more a lost gem. Lots of blues has been involved in Joe’s story along the way, not that you will find much here but it certainly is interesting. The musicianship on display is awesome, the songs clever, some funky. Broken Little Pieces has a lot of AWB, loved the closing Not Tonight in particular, Poli, Palmer (Family) plays flute on Alive Another Day, Someone should sit with Joe and get his story for a book (or even a series). Next please Mr. Jammer.


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Welcome to the fascinating world of Joe Jammer– the bona fide musician who owes his career almost entirely to Led Zeppelin, his nickname to Zep’s Jimmy Page, and his formidable guitar skills to guitar lessons from an early age – courtesy of Joe’s dad!

Joe Jammer was born Joe Wright on Chicago’s south side. Jimmy Page gave him the nickname because Joe used to jam a lot at the time. But a fair bit happened before that moment! Thanks to Joe’s father insisting that his son had better learn to play an instrument, Joe soon displayed considerable talent and got paid to play at the shockingly young age of only 12! By the age of 16 he was roadying for Jimi Hendrix, by the age of 17 he was working for The Who, and by the age of 18 he was working for Led Zeppelin – primarily as Jimmy Page’s guitar technician. Not bad… not bad at all!

So impressed were Led Zep that upon advice of Page, Joe Jammer was urged to re-locate to London (where Page would take him under his personal wing). That date was November 1969. Pretty soon Jammer managed to establish himself as a very sought-after session musician, working with the likes of Mick Jagger, Ringo Starr and Jerry Lee Lewis to name but a few. Oh, and ironically it was also in London that Jammer came to appreciate good ole Chicago blues… life works in mysterious ways indeed. 
Initially signed to EMI, Jammer released a solo album called BAD NEWS in 1973. Far from receiving bad news, Jammer received the good news that his record label had so much faith in him, not only did they agree to let him lose on the vocals, but they also agreed to pay the studio costs for his next album, HEADWAY.

The session musician on the album read like a who’s who in the rock firmament: Mitch Mitchell (who had played with the Jimi Hendrix Experience) features on drums, John Gustafson (Roxy Music) features on bass, Johnny Contardo (Sha Na Na) features on vocals, Fitzroy ‘Brother’ James added an African touch on percussions, and Jean Roussell, the first black session musician to make it rich in London, added a distinct funk vibe on his keyboards. The gang is rounded up by Poli Palmer on flute. Though as good as it sounds (and HEADWAY does sound very good), the album never saw the light of day until now! A promo tour for the album was hampered by visa problems that Jammer suddenly found himself confronted with. During a two-week show in Germany, Jammer found out that he was not allowed back in the UK as his visa had expired, and in the end nothing was sorted out. So it was back to the States. Without main man Joe Jammer in tow, EMI lost interest in promoting HEADWAY and shelved it. It was only after Jammer’s mum died a few years ago that he came across old recordings of the doomed album while clearing out her flat… and this time round he took it to the one and only Angel Air Records label for re-issue. Voila! Did I mention that life works in mysterious ways?

The album’s eleven spanking tracks sound as crisp and energetic as ever, with a very strong funk vibe throughout. Listeners won’t be disappointed. 
Opener ‘Broken Little Pieces’ layers on rhythm and groove and flows smoothly - the combination of vocals and instruments complimenting each other to the max. ‘Can’t Yer Catch?’ is more rock-orientated, albeit blues-rock. We get an absolute smoothie with ‘Alive Another Day’, it’s a composition that would serve a movie soundtrack well. The slick sounding ‘Afraid To Make A Friend’ is in a similar vein – it’s less funky, instead its slow-paced jazzy ambience spells lounge club chic and sophistication. 

We’re touching organic ground again on ‘It Wasn’t Meant To Be’, a number interspersed with dynamic guitar riffs. The raw stonking groove of ‘Travellin’ and the funky wah-wah sounds of ‘Cool Breeze’ make for an uplifting experience, while the tongue-in-cheek ‘One For The Road’ embraces more classical rock vibes.

‘The Watcher Laments’ pays homage to super-fly 70’s funk rock, fragmented by exquisite rhythm arrangements yet executed in an effortless flowing manner. ‘Not Tonight’ can best be described as a sonic odyssey that owes more to psychedelic and folk-infused rock – it’s dreamlike composition invites you to glide along imaginary clouds, only occasionally interrupted by thunder in the guise of Jammer’s fine solo work. The unusually titled ‘Axe Me Another (Don’t Lose Your Head)’ sounds as unusual as the song’s title. It’s free-floating and experimental jazz-funk rhythm may not turn this into a very danceable number, nonetheless there’s enough going on here to lose yourself into!

And there you have it. Another Angel Air gem that can be appreciated and enjoyed forty years after its initial recording! 



                               ON THE RECORD

                                   Radio DJ Stewart Dennis 



Yes, I hadn’t heard of him either, but the sleeve notes alone make this record a mouth-watering prospect.

Jammer working as a Roadie for Jimi Hendrix at 16, The Who at 17 and Led Zeppelin at 18.

In fact it is Jimmy Page who gave Jammer his Moniker, brought him to London and made the introductions to get him a stack of session work.

After turning down a position in Aerosmith, Jammer released his debut solo album in 1973.

Immigration problems meant that this second album recorded in 1974, was never released.

Despite being a Protegee of Jimmy Page, there is little sign of his influence in these songs.

Headway contains a mixture of laid back, trippy soft rock, R’n B ballads and more acid rock tinged stormers.

Jammer was given his name thanks to his love of jamming and these songs showcase his wonderful, effortless and laid back style.





Out February 2nd


8 out of 10








           Interview with Headway Vocalist Johnny Contardo

               By Stephen Spaz Schnee. Discussions Magazine.



By HAYLING BOOK & MUSIC VENUE (follow us on Facebook) TOP 500 REVIEWER on 5 Mar. 2015

Format: Audio CD

Joe was a prominent session man in the Seventies - no doubt we all have albums featuring his work without realising it.

This is HIS moment to shine. Accompanied by Mitch Mitchell on drums, John Gustafson on bass and Poli Palmer (ex-Blossom Toes) on flute and vibes, we are presented with an album loaded with Joe's distinctive vocals, highly accomplished musicianship and some beautiful rock and funk.

There are some truly great moments here, the highlight for me being the closing track, 'Not Tonight', a very special composition which, had it seen the light of day at the time, could have been a staple classic.






Southern Daily Echo (December 2014)

Headway contains a mixture of laid back trippy soft rock, R'n'B ballads and more acid rock tinged stormers. Jammer was given his name thanks to his love of jamming and these songs showcase his wonderful, effortless and laid back style.


HIGHLANDS MAGAZINE FRANCE, Rough translation below..

JOE JAMMER HEADWAY (Angel Air, U.K., 2015) Joe JAMMER's real name Joe WRIGHT began his music career as a Roadie. Previously, he was the roadie of HENDRIX and the WHO during their visits to the USA at the end of the sixties. Joe was then responsible for the battery of John BONHAM and Jimmy PAGE guitars during tour US from 1969 for the promotion from 1st album.


This is where PAGE discovered the potential of the guitarist, he was so impressed that he asked Peter GRANT to take under his wing, precipitating his departure from Chicago to London.


Joe sometimes plays with the airship (Led Zeppelin) at the Bath festival in June 1970. He was also the guitarist of Maggie BELL, then played with PALADIN and NOBODY's BUSINESS, he accompanied also number of artists such as Ringo STARR, JAGGER, and same Julien CLERC from 1980 to 1982.


There are more affiliates, more than 150 in 10 years.

Alongside this busy time, he also led a solo career with a first album in 1972: BAD NEWS, the good hard-rock not so far as LED ZEP where he is accompanied by Reg ISADORE drummer Pat Travers and Tony STEVENS, bassist of FOGHAT


His 2nd solo album: HEADWAY was recorded at Olympic Studios in 1974 with Mitch MITCHELL, drummer of the JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE, Joe living in London with Mitch which allowed him to play on the guitars of the master Hendrix. John GUSTAFSON holds bass: who played with QUATERMASS, HARD STUFF, ROXY MUSIC.

Johnny CONTARDO of SHA NA NA sings, he began in the choir of a church in Boston, through singing and theatre studies, earning him a place in the musical HAIR.

He joined SHA NA NA in 1971 which he left in 1983 for a solo career. Jen musician Cat STEVENS ROUSSEL keyboards, Poli PALMER's FAMILY is on flute and vibraphone, James HAMMER is the percussion.

All compositions from Joe, are very pleasant because he mixes several styles: funk, soul, hard and blues, away from LED ZEP and approaching the JEFF BECK GROUP, proof of the immense talent of this far too unknown guitarist who refused to be part of AEROSMITH.

The hard and the good with The Watcher Laments similar to a fiery DEEP PURPLE, super guitar, super Hammond and a ton of power. Funk Cool Breeze with his Clavinet and especially the singing, outstanding, exercise of the easiest for CONTARDO, his voice clearing as well as Marvin GAYE and Curtis MAYFIELD. The musical result is of pure JEFF BECK GROUP or even of Tommy BOLIN.

 Joe proved comfortable in all genres, even in jazz-rock with axe Me Another where GUSTAFSON bass is put forward, percussion are well-presented and the piano takes jazz accents. A splendid groove shakes Can can't Yer Catch, with a catchy guitar solo on a flowing rhythmic vitality.

We can not forget the beautiful ballad Alive Another Day enchanted by the vibraphone and Poli PALMER flute and a still excellent CONTARDO, even in the romantic genre, a power hit packed with emotion. The album  never came in 1074, Joe had no work visa, Peter GRANT was too occupied with Zeppelin.

 Through Angel Air we can finally listen to this album, but also return to this excellent guitarist who officiated in the shadow of the great.


Joe Jammer - Headway (CD, Angel Air, Pop/rock)

We're always amazed at the gems unearthed by the folks at Great Britain's Angel Air label. This time they've obtained the rights to Joe Jammer's second album recorded way back in 1974 which was never released...until now. Joe has had a long, lengthy, and varied career. In his early days he was a roadie for Jimi Hendrix and The Who, the roadie/guitar tech for Led Zeppelin, and he played guitar for Supertramp, Screaming Lord Sutch, Paladin, Stealers Wheel, Donna Summer, and Maggie Bell (whew!). As if that weren't enough, he is also the founding member of The Olympic Runners and has been a session guitarist for Mick Jagger, Joe Cocker, Ringo Starr, and Jerry Lee Lewis. In the early 1970s Jimmy Page turned manager Peter Grant onto Joe's music and that pairing resulted in the album Bad News (originally released on the Regal Zonophone label that is famous for signing Tyrannosaurus Rex). Not long afterward Jammer recorded this album at Olympic Studios. The sessions included the talents of heavyweights like Mitch Mitchell, John Gustafson, and Johnny Contardo. But because of immigration problems a third album was never recorded and this was was never released. This album will appeal to a wide range of music fans and it's certainly great that it's finally being made available for all to hear. Nice polished tracks include "Broken Little Pieces," "It Wasn't Meant To Be," and "The Watcher Laments."