Album Review: Joe Walsh

analog man (concorde music group)

It's always dangerous to put a new album together with such a strong musical team behind you. It leads most people into creating something boring. However here, Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh uses his arsenal of friends (and family) in what is a very personal and enjoyable album.

Don't listen to this album assuming that it is going to be technically groundbreaking, it isn't. For any Eagle's or Joe Walsh fan, the charm in this album is in the personal insight into Walsh himself.

Album opener, Analog Man, is a smart little insight into the point where technology and social acceptability starts to bypass or confuse you with age (yes, it'll happen to you eventually). Cleverly hinged together with a catchy trademark guitar riff and poignant if sometimes simple lyrics. Wrecking Ball, Band Played On and One Day At A Time all have that Jeff Lynne sound. I love Lynne's production but at times it is such a hallmark sound that it can't be anyone else at the controls and you wonder wether the artist or the producer is in control. Brother-in-law Ringo Starr makes an appearance on the drums as well. I made a point of not checking the sleeve notes and still could pick out Ringo's playing. He is a superb drummer who created his own sound and irrespective of the two having married Bach sisters, they really should work together more often! Together they make the music sound like it's fun to perform.

Insightful moments like Lucky This Way and Family are the introspective moments that I was hoping to find on this album. Again, simple songs, but this is an album all about Walsh opening up and singing from the heart, and here in these two songs you feel, or hope that Walsh is bearing his soul to you. Throughout his success as a musician, Walsh hasn't always enjoyed a simple or pleasant personal life and it's nice to hear some of the honesty that the album portrays. With this in mind it's not always an easy listen and in today's radio friendly three minute vacuous music environment I am sure many would struggle to enjoy it, simply because it's a good classic style album. It's about a journey from beginning to end, you can't just jump in and out.

Walsh holds a special place in my record collection due to his involvement with not only the Eagles (Hotel California's dual guitar section with Don Felder must rank high up as one of the most iconic guitar moments in history), but as a solo artist he's stuck to his own path and delivered consistently listenable solo albums. Walsh has a huge music business pedigree and has worked on some classic albums. Anyone who's heard The Who bassist, John Entwistle's 1981 solo album Too Late The Hero, can't help but to appreciate his guitar craft and musicianship. I'm still waiting for a pop quiz to let me point out that Jimmy Page's famous sunburst 1959 Gibson Les Paul, better known as his "Number 1" was originally owned by Joe Walsh and was sold to Page in 1970.

This album has been long overdue, it's just over 20 years since his last solo album. However, being old school doesn't mean being old, and here Walsh adds many modern music production techniques to the album including drum loops and most surprisingly a touch of Auto-Tune, all packed into the songs like Funk 50, showing that walsh's trademark dirty guitar riffs have not been mellowed with age. At points in this album I can hear similarities between Walsh and UK unsung hero Francis Dunnery (anyone remember It Bites?). To this day Dunnery, like Walsh still does it his way. Long may men like this continue to be creative and let us enjoy their creative endeavours. Both have flavoured their material with what I can best describe as an LA sound and if you like Analog Man, then do take some time to find Dunnery's 1994 album, Fearless.

Oddly though, after this soul searching experience, the album ends with a few tracks that actually feel out of place. From Funk 50 onwards it feels like a different album. Maybe this is Walsh wanting to close on a different note, but with such a personal start, it seems more a case of losing it's way than a calculated decision. This doesn't mean the tracks aren't good, they just feel out of place.

One could assume this kind of album can only happen when you have the confidence and strength to say "If it all ended tommorrow, I'd still have had a blast", I'm sure for Walsh though it will continue for many years yet.

Listen to title track, Analog Man, below: