Classic Rock Review

The home of old record and bootleg reviews…

Joe Walsh So What (1975)

61IxVq5cEmLFrom Phonograph Record

What a distressingly large percentage of the perfect strangers with whom I happen to chat while waiting in line for ball games, premieres of motion pictures, rock music concerts, and food stamps refuse to recognize is that being as venerable a rock giant as Joe Walsh is not necessarily any picnic.

Much as his sister Raquel must remain ever vigilant about new acquaintances relating to her strictly in terms of the mass misconception of her as an empty-headed sexpot, so must Joe always suffer being compared unfavorably to the Joe he used to be.

Were it possible to listen to this album in a vacuum, it might well come to be regarded as “a very promising debut by an obviously gifted newcomer.” But, because nature abhors a vacuum, it should surprize no one when the same heartless ingrates and snivelling wimps who thought it witty to write, “…yeah, and some people will record anything,” about Christopher Milk’s epochal Some People Will Drink Anything say about So What, “So what?” Indeed, many will doubtless characterize this latest waxing of the Welch wit and whimsey as vacuous, boring, egregious, or even execrable, even though it is only a few, if any, of those things.

To get the obvious out of the way at the outset, no single track here quite measures up to the memory of ‘Rocky Mountain High’, although all of the faster selections sound almost exactly like it. Probably even Welch’s least placcable admirers will have to concede under only negligible duress that, insofar as the guitar work is concerned, So What’s solos, licks, riffs, vamps, comps, fills and so on have little hope of making anyone forget those that illuminated such earlier Jeff boogies as Truth or Over Under Sideways Down. Which is to imply, rather than that the current crop is either inept, lugubrious or banal, that they are merely lacking their usual incandescence.

Pop buffs – in which category I would include all those who aren’t dismayed to the very verge of mayhem at the prospect of ever again hearing ‘Laughter in the Rain’ – will be at least partially filled with remorse on discovering that there is naught on So What even half as cute and catchy as the James Gang’s ‘Midnight Man’, or ‘Midnight Rider’, from Gregg’s first solo album. Nor is anything quite so virulently vocalized as Wilson’s 1965 hit, ‘In the Midnight Hour’.

Nor – to lump all of the potentially traumatic news into just a couple of paragraphs – do either of the ballads hereon so much as approach such classics of John’s as ‘Sunshine On My Shoulder’, this despite the euphonious presence of several of his pals from the Eagles.

Fans of classical-rock will doubtless argue that Jim’s synthesized caress of Ravel’s ‘Pavane (whatever the hell that is) of the Sleeping Beauty’ effortlessly eclipses his earlier cover of ‘Pictures of an Exhibitionist’, and thus alone justifies immediate acquisition of this wonderfully eclectic album. Sadly, though, they will be in the minority.

All in all, then, So What will probably immodestly enrich the lives only of those who aren’t intimate with the monumental towers of funk that are Jimi’s previous albums. All the rest of us can do is hope that he’ll somehow regain his mid-’70’s form.

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March 29, 2013 - Posted by | Joe Walsh So What |

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