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Old 09-01-2011, 04:18 PM   #195 (permalink)
Trollheart
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The smoker you drink, the player you get --- Joe Walsh --- 1973 (ABC-Dunhill)


Ain't the human brain an amazing thing? The title of this album makes no sense at all, and yet the brain manages to fill in the gaps and make it make sense! I love the title, and to be honest I've never heard this album before but I just wanted to review it because of the title. Shallow, you say? Wasting your valuable time? We shall see, we shall see...

Most people know Joe Walsh for his two big hits, “Rocky Mountain way”, which is featured on this album, and “Life's been good”, which isn't. But you may also know him for his association with the Eagles, when he played on the “Hotel California” album and tour. A larger than life figure, Walsh is an accomplished guitar player, but here he also plays keyboards, bass and of course sings.

The album kicks off with the aforementioned “Rocky Mountain way”, which helped break him commercially as his first big success. It's a fun song, a real slice of boogie rock with chunky guitars, honky-tonk pianos and a great beat. “Book ends”, by comparison, is a much more sombre affair, almost balladic in its composition, and mostly driven on a piano line with backup from guitar. Although credited just to him, the album is in fact by Walsh and his band at the time, Barnstorm. It was also to be the last with them.

“Wolf” is a ballad, with lovely mournful guitar and atmospheric keyboards and backup guitars. Its mood sort of reminds me of very early Fleetwood Mac, while “Midnight moodies” is almost soul/funk, with some jazz influences and even a little flute thrown in (yeah, I know, but it works somehow)! It's an instrumental, and very good it is too.

The vocal duties are shared on the album between Walsh and keyboard player Rocke Grace, as well as bassist Kenny Passarelli and drummer/keyboard player/everything player Joe Vitale, and as it's a little hard to work out who's who (though that's obviously Walsh on the opener) I won't go too deeply into the vocal performances here. But it's pretty obvious that it's not Joe Walsh on the caribbean flavoured “Happy ways”, while “Meadows” starts off with someone shouting something far away and then screaming before the track gets into its groove, a nice mid-paced rocker, the first of the tracks to come closest to the style of the band he would later join, the Eagles. You can almost hear Don Henley or Glenn Frey singing this one (though I'm fairly certain it's Walsh himself on vocals here).

The two longest tracks are next, the first being the lush “Dreams”, a lazy, laid-back ballad with some great organ helping to create the drift-away mood of the song. This actually puts me in mind of the first Supertramp album, a very underrated record as it happens. Well named indeed, the song is lazy and dreamy. It's followed by “Days gone by”, a sort of funky mid-paced rock tune, with some great guitar, especially at the end. Proceedings come to a close on “(Day dream)Prayer”, a short piano-led ballad with elements of Floyd/Waters.

An album with a lot of varied styles, it's pretty much true that there's something for everyone here. It's a classic album which I always wanted to hear. Having heard it, I have to admit to not being totally blown away, but there are some really good tracks on it, and it's a good signpost to where Joe Walsh's career was going to go in the future.

TRACKLISTING

1. Rocky Mountain way
2. Book ends
3. Wolf
4. Midnight moodies
5. Happy ways
6. Meadows
7. Dreams
8. Days gone by
9. (Day dream) Prayer
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Last edited by Trollheart; 11-04-2011 at 02:32 PM.
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