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"But Seriously, Folks..."
Joe Walsh

Asylum 6E-141
Released: May 1978
Chart Peak: #8
Weeks Charted: 27
Certified Platinum: 8/7/78

Joe WalshJoe Walsh seemed an odd choice as Eagle-come-lately because he has a sense of humor; he's a mensch, not an Übermensch. Presumably, Henley, Frey & Co. wanted him for his guitar playing. Walsh added enormous punch to Hotel California -- he's the one who kicks "Life in the Fast Lane" into fifth gear -- but good as that album was, it hardly left room for Walsh's bizarre brand of self-depreciation. For that, he has to make his own records.

"But Seriously, Folks..." -- whose jacket pictures Walsh relaxing at a cafe that is unremarkable except for the fact that it's underwater -- is a triumph in the grand tradition of So What? and You Can't Argue with a Sick Mind. (Since Walsh is now signed to Asylum, shouldn't he have called the new disc Voluntary Commitment, or something like that?) The sound is full of brilliant highlights, and the songs are good, though not as carefully written as Pete Townshend's, with whom Walsh shares a lot, and not as lazy as Jimmy Buffett's, with whom Walsh shares too much. On the other hand, not having to try very hard is pretty much what the album is about -- "Theme from Boat Weirdos," a delightful instrumental, comes off like a backing track for which Walsh couldn't be bothered to find lyrics -- and what makes Walsh's celebration of ease so much fun is that he's never arrogant. He's befuddled, but he won't look a gift horse in the mouth -- a phrase that might well turn up as the title of his next LP.

Joe Walsh - But Seriously, Folks...
Original album advertising art.
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The best thing here is clearly "Life's Been Good," an eight-minute reverie on the absurdity of success (what's absurd to Walsh is that he's successful). It starts off with dramatic guitar figures -- this is the Big One, the music announces -- and then drops into bubblegum reggae for the world's least dramatic autobiography: "My Maserati does one-eighty-five/I lost my license/Now I don't drive." It's a tale of a rich, carefree rock star, laughing at the world that has given him his pleasures, and laughing as well at his ability to enjoy them without a twinge of guilt -- or even a hint of the self-pity such songs conventionally use as a substitute for soul. "I can't complain," Walsh admits. "But sometimes I still do."

Further reading on
Super Seventies RockSite!:

Album Review:
The Smoker You Drink,
The Player You Get

Album Review: So What

Album Review:
The James Gang - Thirds

Joe Walsh Lyrics

Joe Walsh Videos

Joe Walsh Mugshots

As always, Walsh sings in his filtered, tinny whine -- he sounds as if he's coming from across the street, an odd contrast to the full presence of his guitar and the band -- but after a while you get used to it. He's got a lot of Keith Moon in him, and the quality of his voice simply cops to the fact that he's not quite all there, aurally or otherwise. Queer as his voice may be, Joe Walsh is never as hoked up as Tom Petty, but then he doesn't take himself as seriously either. Long may he keep on not doing so.

- Greil Marcus, Rolling Stone, 8-10-78.

Bonus Reviews!

This first solo album on Asylum from Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh isn't very exciting, but it is solid and it is at least another sign of healthy mainstream rock activity. Acoustic guitars are judiciously used in the rhythm section, making for some nice contrasts in texture. There's a long, quiet rock instrumental -- if you can imagine such a thing -- that's quite pleasant. And there are lyrics worth catching here and there, as in "Second Hand Store" and in the could-this-be-irony effect of "Life's Been Good." The superstar in that one says everyone's changed but himself, and in a way he could be right. Walsh seems to sing through a lot of reverb or something most of the time, and he wouldn't win many singing contests anyway, but in general the album has to be called likable.

- Noel Coppage, Stereo Review, 9/78.

Walsh, the fiery Eagles guitarist, goes solo here with an array of arresting rock'n'roll. He gets support from fellow Eagles Glenn Frey, Don Felder, Don Henley and Timothy Schmit as they contribute both background vocals and instrumentation, and there are some Eagles-like textures to the album. But the basic unit of Walsh on guitar and synthesizer, Joe Vitale on drums, percussion, flute and synthesizer, Jay Ferguson on keyboards, Willie Weeks on bass and Joey Murcia on guitar produces a distinctive sound -- harder edged and more guitar-oriented, playing off Walsh's scorching vocals. Best cuts: "Over And Over," "Second Hand Store," "Indian Summer," "Tomorrow," "Life's Been Good."

- Billboard, 1978.

Well, "Second Hand Store" is fairly likable, but keep it to yourself -- a follow-up would ruin everything. "Life's Been Good" is not only Summer Song '78, it was born to be a novelty one-shot, and that it happens to say more about the tribulations of stardom than all the concept albums ever devised on the subject just goes to show how deeply significant AM radio can be. C+

- Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.

This is his biggest solo success, featuring the hit "Life's Been Good." * * * *

- Kub Coda, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.

Humor dominates on But Seriously, Folks... -- presumably because Walsh's more serious music was being made with the Eagles -- but at least the jokes, particularly "Life's Been Good," are funny. * * *

- Gary Graff, Musichound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, 1996.

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