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Joe Walsh gets even better with ‘Analog Man’

June 26, 2012

CD REVIEW

“Analog Man” – Joe Walsh (2012), produced by Jeff Lynne and Joe Walsh, Concord Music Group

Contrary to the literary wisdom of F. Scott Fitzgerald, there are second acts in American life, but it’s often true that the ensuing act isn’t nearly as lively as the first one. That’s not the case at all with Joe Walsh’s unexpectedly brilliant “Analog Man,” a 10-song tour de force comprising Walsh’s first solo album in two decades and his most spirited release since 1978’s “But Seriously Folks.”

No need to mince words on this one: Buy it, you’ll like it.

There’s something deeply satisfying when a new release by an old favorite turns out to be among the career bests, and such is the case with Walsh and “Analog Man.” Right out of the gate, Walsh lets us know that he knows the world in which he made his musical mark belongs to the past:

Welcome to cyber-space, I’m lost in a fog

Everything’s digital, I’m still analog

When something goes wrong, I don’t have a clue

Some 10-year-old smartass has to show me what to do…”

Bad-a-bing, bad-a-boom. Walsh opens with attitude, alright, but even though it’s replete with the Walsh spunkiness of old, it’s also endowed with a simple, point-blank wisdom, the wisdom of matter-of-fact self-acceptance:

I’m an analog man in a digital world.

Walsh’s rock-and-roll credits are many: A founding member of the James Gang, several successful solo albums, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of The Eagles in 1998, and, for good measure, he happens to be Ringo Starr’s brother-in-law. So why does “Analog Man” have the same kind of “hungry” feel more often associated with a promising 22-year-old than a 65-year-old who enjoyed his "Smoker You Drink the Player You Get" days, but is now firmly in the grips of sobriety?

Look no further than “One Day at a Time,” perhaps the most rocking recovery anthem ever recorded and infused with a heavy dose of that signature Walsh wit and wisdom. Walsh’s sobriety is of the creative variety, something relatively new to the successful but sometimes smashed Walsh of decades gone by. As he puts it:

Well I finally got around to admit –

that I was the problem

when I used to put the blame

on everybody’s shoulders but mine

All the friends I used to run with are gone…

Lord, I hadn’t planned on living this long

But I finally learned to live my life

one day at a time

It's a far cry from the I go to parties sometimes until 4/ it's hard to leave when you can't find the door Walsh of his musical heyday, but it is still undeniably Joe Walsh in all his musical glory.

Walsh may not have planned on living to 65 -- what used to be considered retirement age -- but fans of rock and roll have been treated to a masterpiece by a veteran who seems more interested in adding to his musical legend than in resting on his many laurels.

As if that’s not enough, word on the street is that Walsh spent some time in a Cleveland recording studio with his old bandmates from the James Gang in March. If “Analog Man” is any indication, Walsh has plenty of gold records still to come in his golden years.

9.25 out of 10 stars

SOURCES AND RESOURCES

Joe Walsh website

Joe Walsh reunites with James Gang band members for recording sessions in Cleveland, Cleveland.com, March 23, 2012

Wikipedia entry on ‘Analog Man’

Consequence of Sound review of “Analog Man” June 7, 2012

Ulitmate Classic Rock review of “Analog Man,” June 2012

Rolling Stone review of “Analog Man,” June 5, 2012