Joe Walsh – Analogue Man (CD Review)
By Grant Britt
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.