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The Ambassador of Rock - Jimmy Ashhurst
Episode 404 - Jimmy Ashhurst
What can be said about Jimmy Ashhurst?
Rock–n-roll troubadour? CHECK
The bass player with creative wanderlust? CHECK
Rock Star? CHECK
Nice guy? CHECK
Great storyteller? CHECK
Musical Ambassador? CHECK
Great sense of humor? CHECK
Geopolitical operative? HUH?
Jimmy returned to Abandoned Albums to chat up the debut album by former Guns-n-Roses guitarist Izzy Stradlin.
Izzy Stradlin and the Ju Ju Hounds was released in 1992 just as grunge grabbed the musical crotch of the world. A blues-based rock and roll album in the classic rock tradition wasn’t the sound of the day. But I gotta tell ya, it was then and remains today, loads better than some of the dreck that emerged from Seattle.
This record is firmly embedded on my desert island list, and Jimmy also appears on another of the albums on that list - Broken Homes debut album.
Jimmy is the only musician on my desert island list twice. Although, if I get fellow Ju Ju Hound Rick Richards, he will join that esteemed club.
When you listen to this record, you will quickly realize that if Izzy Stradlin and the Ju Ju Hounds had been released in 1974 instead of 1992, it would have been a monster hit. The band would’ve been on the cover of Rolling Stone and Creem, and I suspect there may have been some Tiger Beat covers. In short, the band would be legends for their music and not for having one of the more egregiously overlooked, and yes, Abandoned Albums.
The band was:
Izzy Stradlin - vocals and guitar
Jimmy Ashhurst - bass and backing vocals
Rick Richards - guitar
Charlie Quintana - drums
I first spoke with Jimmy in September of 2021 for the first episode of my Abandoned Albums Podcast. Rob Janicke and I chatted him up about the debut album by his then-band Broken Homes.
This time, it was Geoff Calhoun and me behind the board when Jimmy stopped by Thunderlove Studio to chat about this debut album by Izzy Stradlin and the Ju Ju Hounds.
And yes, Jimmy shatters the mystery around what a Ju Ju Hound is.
Much like many of our guests, you may not know Jimmy, but you know Jimmy’s work. Trust me, he’s one of rock’s greatest bass players, and you have heard him: from Broken Homes to Izzy Stradlin and the Ju Ju Hounds to Buckcherry to The Cult, Guns-n-Roses, Ronnie Wood, and on and on…
We discover during our conversation that Jimmy is arguably six degrees from almost everybody in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The guy has not only played with everybody but also KNOWS everybody. The night before our conversation, he was out with Chris Robinson of The Black Crowes.
Name-dropping aside, as a musician, what sets Ashhurst apart from other bass players is his ability to create powerful and catchy grooves. He's a master of the pocket, playing bass lines that are as much a part of the song as the guitar riffs or the vocal melodies. While he may favor a meaty, thick sound, his bass lines are melodic, rhythmic, and always in service of the song.
And you can hear all of that coalesce on every track of Izzy Stradlin and the JuJu Hounds. A case in point is “Shuffle It All” - it's got Jimmy’s beefy and lazy bass intro that slides flawlessly into the perfect sloppy groove by Rick and Izzy, before Charlie smashes the song into being - it’s even accompanied by the ideal sing-along chorus. If you close your eyes, you can see the lighters in an arena coming up.
Sadly, this album was not angsty-enough for the flannel set. Arguably, it rocked a helluva lot harder because I can tell you that, 30 years on, the needle (such as it is these days) drops on Izzy Stradlin and the JuJu Hounds a fuck-ton more than anything by Alice in Chains (no disrespect intended).
The irony, of course, is that this record has some scorchers that would shame anyone of the grunge era. I would pit “Bucket of Trouble” against Pearl Jam’s “Porch” any day of the week.
Izzy and the boys also cover “Pressure Drop,” that’ll have you feeling like you’ve snorted half of Colombia before it halts and celebrates the song’s origin in reggae.
The next time you have a party, when it reaches its apogee, play “Cuttin’ the Rug” and see what happens. You can send the bills from the destruction to Geoff.
Jimmy is a rock and roll journeyman who has played with a who’s who - from rock royalty to gutter punks - and remains humble… and nice. Go figure.
I sense from Jimmy that it is, and always will be, about the music.
Jimmy Ashhurst is the Ambassador of Rock and Roll.