Some time in the late eighties, I went to see Joe Walsh play a very rare midnight show at NYC's Beacon Theatre. Walsh was dressed in a big floppy hat not unlike something worn by Porthos. He had thigh-high fishing boots and overalls, and seemed only a bit less drunk than Brett Somers on any episode of the Match Game. For every sloppy song the band attempted to play, Joe told a 5-10 minute Myron Cohen joke. It was painfully unpleasant. I couldn't believe the spectacle. It was a horrible experience that put me off Joe for a long time.
Joe Walsh has a reputation for being a bit of a buffoon. Not only that, but he will forever be associated with two of the most odious men in music, Don Henley and Glenn Frey. Now, I happen to be a fan of The Eagles, but I can recognize just why so many people are not. And I'm not just referring to "Life In the Fast Lane." But this is not about Henley & Frey.
I revisited some of Joe Walsh's solo records this weekend, and while I've always enjoyed them, it took this particular go around to realize, just how much I enjoyed them. Both "Barnstorm" and "The Smoker You Drink, The Player You Get" are incredibly unique albums, that cater to not only the classic rock sounds of the day, but showcase both Walsh and Joe Vitale's abilities as both songwriters and arrangers. And I never realized just how often the influence of the Beach Boys turns up.
Like on this track, from "The Smoker You Drink..." This wouldn't have been out of place on "Holland," I don't think.
Or, on this one, from a few albums later, 1981's "There Goes The Neighborhood":
Like many artists who have been around for what seems like forever, the most-popular songs in their catalogue are not always the best representatives. If I never hear "Rocky Mountain Way" again, it will be too soon. But what about "Birdcall Morning," from Walsh's debut?
For everything uncool about The Eagles, there is just as much cool to be found in The James Gang. And while "Funk #49" might be on everyone's "Do Not Play" list by now, "Funk #48" still sounds as fresh as ever. So does, "Take A Look Around." Here are both.
Hope my Joe Walsh appreciation isn't an imposition. Maybe you'll listen and agree, Joe is alright!