RATINGS: A = must own B = buy it C= average D = yawn F = puke

Russ Ballard – Russ Ballard/Winning/At the Third Stroke
BGO Records

Rating: C

Russ Ballard is that one guy…you know, kind like the JJ Cale of pop music.  Who’s JJ Cale, you ask?  Oh dear…

Well, for those who know…the rock and roll aficionados out there, Russ Ballard needs no introduction.  The man wrote songs that became huge hits for other people including Ace Frehley’s “New York Groove.” 

BGO Records has now released a special package that contains three releases from Ballard’s solo career (he achieved fame as a member of Argent before writing all of those ‘other people’ hits). 

The three albums contained here are his self-titled solo effort, Winning and At the Third Stroke.  Of these, Winning is the best, by far.  The other two are good, not great.  However, this is a cool look into the mind of a great singer/songwriter from his early solo days between 1974 and 1978.

The self-titled Russ Ballard contains “I Don’t Believe in Miracles” which was a hit for Colin Blunstone and a few great songs that didn’t see the light of day including “She’s a Hurricane” and “You Can Do Voodoo.” 

Next up is Winning, which saw Ballard write the title track which would later become one of Santana’s biggest hits.  The song sounds a little different but it’s still pretty cool.  Of course, one of Ballard’s most successful tunes is included on Winning.  “Since You’ve Been Gone” was a hit for the band Rainbow and also a minor hit for Head East.  This is the perhaps his best tune to date. 

The next album, At the Third Stroke, is less impressive and really is just included here to be on here.  There is nothing wrong with it but it lacks the same spark of Winning, as Ballard was perhaps hitting a dry patch. 

All in all, however, you get one good album, one really good album and one okay album.  More important is being able to take a listen into the mind of a great songwriter. 

Being able to hear some of the famous songs as written is interesting and being able to hear songs by the same man that are not as well known also lets one better understand the artist. 

Russ Ballard:
She´s A Hurricane
Loose Women
I Don’t Believe In Miracles
You Can Do Voodoo
You Can Count On Me
Fly Away
Danger Zone - Part I
Danger Zone - Part Il
Venus (Shine Your Light)

Born On Halloween
A Song For Gail (What Have We Got Her Into)
Fakin’ Love
Since You Been Gone
Just A Dream Away
Here I Am
Free At Last
Are You Cuckoo?

At The Third Stroke:
Treat Her Right
Expressway To Your Heart
Cast The Spirit
Look At Her Dance
What Does It Take
I’m A Scorpio
My Judgment Day

By Jeb Wright