it's so trendy to despise the Eagles of late, one hesitates to invite public scorn by even mentioning them. But somebody keeps buying those albums, and guitarist Joe Walsh's latest solo effort is worth a few words.
For a lot of people, the Eagles symbolize rock's Old Guard (harmonies, country flavorings, icky humanism) as opposed to new-wave, no-wave and the more nebulous waves. They also epitomize one side of the less noble Battle of the Place Names, i.e. : Which is the niftier spot, EL Lay or En Why? (It's less than clear who their counterparts are in this -- Springsteen? The Bush Tetras?)
So acutely attuned to this drama is Joe Walsh that his solo albums have become successively apologetic, almost to the point of self-parody. If you don't get the general landslide of guilt from the title ("There Goes the Neighborhood"), consider the cover. Certain that everybody else will dump on his latest effort, he wants the first shot. There he is, sitting atop an Army tank in a municipal trash heap overlooking smoggy you know where -- among the debris, a stereo receiver, acoustic and electric guitars, a platinum record.
But Walsh found out with "Life's Been Good" that forgiveness -- even love -- is possible in this vale of tears. Just write lyrics that sound like nursery rhymes, set them to simple but lovable melodies and hold your nose when you sing, so people won't think you actually take yourself seriously.
Somehow, "Neighborhood" manages to transcend this self-denigrating garbage anyway. There are ABBA songs with titles lifted from a second-grade primer ("Things," "Bones," "Rockets") and lines straight out of My Weekly Reader ("Some things turn out all wrong, and some things turn out all right; Some things don't turn out at all, but then again they might").
There's also Walsh's handsome guitar playing. Bill Szymczyk's ace production and a hilarious tune called "Down on the Farm:" And the pig grabbed a chicken, said Come on over, let's do-si-do a few And the chick said No, you're covered with mud , Called him a pig and it was true .
Not to mention a brilliant, daring jab at Agent-of-Agents Irving Azoff ("You Never Know").
C'mon back, Joe, it's just a little rock war.
THE ALBUM -- Joe Walsh, "There Goes the Neighborhood." Asylum 5E-523.