Although Jay Ferguson makes his living today writing soundtracks (he wrote the theme to the TV show "The Office" for example), he was, at one time, a well regarded rock musician with hits from his two bands under his belt (Spirit and Jo Jo Gunne). This three albums on two CD release features three of Ferguson's best solo albums two of which boasted hit singles when they were released--"Thunder Island" and "Shakedown Cruise"--along with a nice booklet featuring new comments from Ferugson about the making of these albums.
"All Alone in the End Zone" was a surprise departure for those who only knew Ferguson from Jo Jo Gunne--the album moves away from the harder rock boogie of his previous band focusing on a pop-rock sensibility. Produced by Bill Szymczyk (Eagles, Joe Walsh, B.B. King among others), the production adds a sheen that compliments the album. Since Szymczyk had worked with Ferguson before on the second and third Jo Jo Gunne albums, he had a sympathetic approach as a producer to Ferguson's material.
"All Alone in the End Zone" is a fine debut although it isn't quite as accomplished as Ferguson's second (and more popular) album also produced by Szymczyk. "Thunder Island" had a big hit single with the title track although it only drove the album to #72 on the Billboard charts. It's a strong album over all but it's a pity that a second single didn't drive it higher in the charts.
His third solo album (they are pictured out of order on the cover) "Real Life Ain't This Way" had a laid back feel overall and, although it had another single that did well--"Shakedown Cruise"--it also failed to propel the album into the top reaches of the Billboard charts (it charted at #86). Perhaps due to touring and recording, Ferguson seemed to have a shortage of strong original material for the album as indicated by the medley of Stones songs that closes out the album ("Let's Spend the Night Together/Have You Seen Your Mother, Standing in the Shadow"). While "Real Life" isn't quite as strong as "Thunder Island", it does have its moments including "Paying Time" with Joe Walsh on guitar.
As with all releases from Edsel, this features a nice booklet with comments from Ferguson. The albums here sound very close to the Collector's Choice releases for Ferguson meaning that they have very straight forward transfers to CD without digital tweaking, a large degree of compression.
With the Collector's Choice CDs out of print, this might be the way to go to collec these three albums for fans of Ferguson and Edsel does a fine job (unlike the Robert Palmer releases where it appears that mp3's were the source) putting together these three albums.