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Joe Walsh Analog Man (2012)

Joe Walsh Analog ManFrom

Analog Man is Joe Walsh’s first solo CD in 20 years. While many people may know him best for his work with The Eagles, he first became known as part of the James Gang in the late ’60s. He also had success on his own as a solo artist, particularly with his 1973 hit, “Rocky Mountain Way,” and 1978’s “Life’s Been Good.”

For Analog Man, Walsh again mines his own life for material as he did in those classic hits. But this CD finds him in a much healthier, saner place. The recording is dedicated to his wife of four years, Marjorie, and reflects his experience in getting sober and straight, as in the song “One Day at a Time.”

Walsh’s newfound contentment is reflected in “Lucky That Way,” which features his brother-in-law Ringo Starr on drums, and “Family,” where he is joined by Graham Nash and David Crosby on background vocals.

“Analog Man,” “Wrecking Ball,” and “Band Played On” are all comments on modern life. The idea expressed here is that everything has gotten too busy, people are too stressed, and we all need to slow down and simplify. “Band Played On” specifically is concerned with environmental issues, and uses the Titanic is as a metaphor for our modern world, slowing sinking while everyone just ignores the situation. Ringo provides the drumming on this one, too.

“Spanish Dancer” is not one of my favorite songs on the CD. The lyrics are less personal but quite beautiful, but the song sounds overproduced. I think this was an experiment that does not quite work. “Hi-Roller Baby” is another less-personal song which has a rather odd sound. It’s not one of my favorites, but there is some great guitar work on it.

“Funk 50” is a belated sequel to The James Gang’s hit “Funk 49,” one of the first songs to feature Walsh. While “Funk 49” was all about “trouble brewin'” though, “Funk 50” is all about how Walsh now knows what he wants and that he’s going to make his music and show everyone he’s back. “India” is a rocking dance instrumental, which shows—as does the whole CD—that Walsh still has the guitar chops.

Jeff Lynne produced this CD along with Joe Walsh, and his influence is pervasive. He also provides guitar and background vocals. I don’t think that his promotion is always right on target, especially on “Hi-Roller Baby” and “Spanish Dancer.” I think the idea may have been to bring to mind the trippy sound of “Rocky Mountain Way” and “Life’s Been Good,” but it doesn’t really work for me.

Nevertheless, Analog Man is an interesting and often excellent CD which should show listeners that Joe Walsh is, indeed, back.

March 27, 2013 Posted by | Joe Walsh Analog Man | | Leave a comment

Joe Walsh Analog Man (2012)

Joe Walsh Analog ManFrom

It’s great to have Joe Walsh back as the main event. Even better, his trademark yowl and stinging guitar seem to have survived the ravages of time and self-abuse pretty much unscathed.

Even though the title cut has Walsh yearning to travel back in time, his accompanying music is timeless. “What’s wrong with vinyl,” he asks, reproducing the same James Gang era sounds of his that debuted on vinyl in ’68, this time with the help of another power trio with producer Jeff Lynn on keys and percussionist Steve Jay.

Walsh’s first solo outing in two decades is strong all the way through; lyrically, vocally and instrumentally. His self -deprecating sense of humor still shines through. “When something goes wrong/ I don’t have a clue/ some ten year old smart ass has to show me what to do,” he moans as an analogue man trying to get by in a digital world on “Analogue Man.”

Also included are a couple of musical updates on his life since ‘78’s autobiographical “Life’s Been Good.” Walsh theorizes that since his career “started in the middle of nowhere/ (he) didn’t have far to fall” on “Lucky That Way.” On “One Day At A Time,” he realizes “I was the problem when I used to put the blame on everybody else’s shoulder but mine.”

But Analogue Man is no preachy, post-rehab follow-up It’s lively performance from a guy who still has a lot to say and whose voice has been missed. Nobody else’s vocals ever sounded like Walsh, and he didn’t need autotune to get that sound. And on guitar, Walsh’s voice was and still is one of the most unique ones around. “Funk 50,” his update on the James Gang classic, “Funk 49” still has that crackle and crunch that made the original jump out at you. The new version, with Walsh the sole musician on the cut, playing bass and drums as well as contributing guitar and vocals, slaps you upside the head as hard as the original.

He finishes up with the wiggly and crunchy instrumental “India,” stompin’ funk with Walsh darting in and out with stinging barbs.

And as if this comeback wasn’t enough payback for loyal fans who have been hoping for years for Walsh to come screeching back, it’s being reported that he’s been holed up in a Cleveland studio with the rest of the James Gang recording new versions of their classic rock. Although it took a while, now at last life has been good to Walsh fans as well.

March 24, 2013 Posted by | Joe Walsh Analog Man | | Leave a comment