Jim Ryan was playing lead guitar for The Vibratones when they were joined by Don Ciccone and Bob Podstawski
and morphed into The Critters.
They signed with Kapp Records, who pushed
for them to release a cover of John Sebastian’s “Younger
Girl” as their first hit.
At this time, Bob, Don and Jim were all graduating from high
school. In a bizarre
coincidence, without pre-planning, the three of them wound up at Villanova
It was difficult to keep the band going, as the other
members of the band were back in New Jersey. Their debut album, nearly two years
in the making, was finally released in 1966, and “Younger Girl”
did indeed become a minor hit.
Don and Jim wrote most of the material on the album.
The Vietnam war interrupted whatever momentum the band
had. Bob, Don, and drummer Jack
Decker were all called away to serve their country. Jim tried to carry on with bassist
Ken Gorka, adding drummer Jim Pelosi and
keyboardist Bob Spinella, recording Touch and Go with The Critters, but
they eventually disbanded.
Jim went on to work with Carly Simon on several
albums, and toured with her, as well.
He appeared on her eponymous debut, as well as Anticipation, The Best of
Carly Simon, Coming Around Again, Greatest
Hits Live, Hello Big Man, Hotcakes, No Secrets,
and Spoiled Girl. Jim co-wrote “Summer’s
Coming Around Again” with Carly and Paul Glanz. He
also collaborated with Cat Stevens on Buddha
& The Chocolate Box, and appears on Cat Stevens Box Set.
A multi-instrumentalist, Jim plays acoustic, bass, and
electric guitar, and sings background vocals.
He has since expanded into film and television,
composing theme music for Channel 4 in New York and CNBC, as well as
Thanks to CD technology, you can hear some of that old
Critters stuff on a variety of compilations: Anthology: The Complete Kapp
Recordings, 1965-1967, The Best
of The Critters, and New York
Bound: The Best of the Critters.