This is the tenth studio album from Joe, who most of you will know from his work as lead guitarist in ’70s superstars The Eagles and James Gang. He has also contributed his guitar playing to countless other works by famous artists including The Beach Boys, Steve Winwood and Bob Seger.
Of course Joe is getting on in age these days (he’s 65) so it’s interesting to see where he’s coming from musically, circa 2012.
The first thing that strikes you about this album is the man’s completely honest and self effacing attitude towards himself and his musical ability. In his heyday, Joe was one of the wildest partiers in the rock world, his legendary penchant for substance abuse was equalled only by the likes of Keith Moon, Keith Richards and Jim Morrison. In the rather tame and safe company of his fellow band mates in The Eagles, Joe stood out like a sore thumb. Indeed he used to take a chainsaw with him on tour and would liberally apply it to anything that got in his way including Glen Frey when the tedium of the latter’s golfing anecdotes became too much!
This former craziness is referenced in the lyrics, particularly in the track “One Day At A Time” in which he sincerely berates himself for his outlandish behaviour and he seems genuinely surprised that he is still with us in any form, let alone still lucid and possessed of musical ability!
The title track is also self-deprecating. He laments his inability to deal with modern digital technology and declares himself an “Analog Man”. A relic from another age who lyrically muses “…when something goes wrong, I don’t have a clue, some ten year old smartass has to tell me what to do”. I’m sure most of us can relate to that…
The track “Lucky That Way” is a self explanatory shrug and smile to people who are amazed at his musical ability and longevity. I like these lyrical touches. He knows he’s way past his prime, but for whatever reason, both he and his musical ability are still intact.
Lyrics aside, the album is, for the most part, fairly laid back country rock; a lot of it reminiscent of The Eagles of course and there is nothing new or ground breaking about it. It doesn’t even reach any real musical heights, but much of it is pleasant and earnest. Joe’s guitar work is still quite good and there is some fine slide playing (“Family”), some reasonably hard rocking riffs (“Wrecking Ball” and “Funk 50”) and surprisingly proficient solos (“India”).
His voice has undoubtedly been ravaged by time and he sounds at times like a slightly gravely and countrified Ozzy Osborne! He can still hold a note though, his vocal vibrato is quite good and he lays down some really nice multi tracked vocal harmonies.
This album will hold limited appeal for most listeners. Only fans of the softer side of classic rock or guitar nerds will be interested in it, but it’s not without its charms and makes for great background music or an accompaniment to a long drive in the country.
Funnily enough, it’s the lyrics that are the most endearing feature of the record. They’re honest, poignant and plaintive, yet at times humorous and this aspect of the songs really surprised me. To be brutally honest however, most of the music is fairly pedestrian and hackneyed mellow rock. Predictable song structures and mundane chordal/melodic progressions are all too prevalent on Analog Man and it all comes off sounding a bit dreary. There are a lot of filler tracks here. “Fishbone” and “Band Played On” are awfully trite wastes of time and should have been omitted from the disc.
Standout tracks are the excellent title cut, the soul baring “One Day At A Time” and the funky, disco-esque instrumental “India”.
I’m glad this album exists. It’s a frank insight into the life and mind of one of rock’s most infamously insane exponents, albeit one who has completely mellowed out and sobered up. The music is tepid at times but what do you expect? The guy should be dead ten times over!
Thanks Joe. It ain’t great but it’ll do and I’m glad you’re still kicking and making music.
Author – Stewart