Joe Walsh: Life is good, indeed.
Published: Monday, July 23, 2012
Updated: Monday, July 23, 2012 07:07
Legendary guitarist and singer Joe Walsh returns with his first solo album in 20 years, “Analog Man,” and the result has been worth the wait.
The self-proclaimed “ordinary average guy” has been focusing most of his time on reuniting with his previous bands the Eagles and the James Gang. Walsh also got a new start late in life by marrying Ringo Starr’s sister-in-law, Marjorie. Coincidentally, “Analog Man” is an honest, confessional document about putting his wild past behind him and finding new beginnings. Walsh co-produced the album with former Electric Light Orchestra leader Jeff Lynne, who is famous for working on albums by his fellow Traveling Wilburys band members George Harrison and Tom Petty. Lynne guests on a few tracks, playing several different instruments.
In the title cut, Walsh finds himself overwhelmed by the excesses of digital technology and in particular of computers. Summing up the latter, he sings, “When things go wrong, I don’t have a clue/Some ten-year-old smart ass has to show me what to do.” This showcases Walsh’s ability to keep his sense of humor about life’s little difficulties.
“Lucky That Way,” one of the album’s top highlights, is about appreciating all that life has to offer after starting over. Starr pulls in as a guest on drums in this cut.
“Spanish Dancer” and “Band Played On” both have 60s-style jangly guitars, yet sound very modern. Both songs are catchy and irresistible. On the opposite end of the scale, the deeply personal and confessional tone continues on such songs as “Family” and “One Day at a Time.” Sober since 1995, Walsh sings movingly about leaving the heady, hotel-room-trashing, party-hard days behind him and growing up late in life. These songs have a sense of tenderness and tell of post-sobriety happiness without becoming preachy to the audience.
Walsh is highly respected for his guitar playing skills, and takes the opportunity to feature them throughout the album without resorting to showing off. The blistering instrumental “India” was written by Walsh after he and his wife made a trip to India. Walsh writes in the liner notes that he was trying to explore house and electronica sounds with this cut. He plays it very well, and the song also has one of his best guitar solos on the album.
Walsh looks back on his days with the James Gang on the song “Funk 50,” which is a follow up to that band’s hit single “Funk 49.” Speaking of the James Gang, Walsh descended into his archives to find one of the band’s previously unreleased songs, recorded around1970. “But I Try” features guest Little Richard on piano and vocals, leading the band into a killer six-and-a-half minute jam. Everyone on this cut is firing on all cylinders, revealing it to be a lost gem that deservedly found the light of day.
The deluxe edition of “Analog Man” includes a bonus DVD called “For the Record.” featuring brief interviews with Walsh and live performances of three of the album’s songs. The only downside is that it is only 17 minutes long.
Joe Walsh has given listeners one of best albums, one that ranks alongside such classics as “So What” and “But Seriously, Folks.” Hopefully, it will not be another 20 years until the next one.
Joe Walsh’s “Analog Man” receives 4.5 out of 5 stars.