HOLLYWOOD is full of aging rock stars who no longer have any compelling musical statements to make but who still have the industry connections to keep making albums. Because these musicians are talented and professional, these albums make for rather pleasant if pointless listening.
"Got Any Gum?" by ex-Eagle Joe Walsh is such an album.
None of Walsh's guitar solos on the new album approach the brilliant tension-and- release of his famous solo on the Eagles' "Hotel California"; none of his new songs are half as funny as his biggest solo hit, "Life's Been Good." Walsh and Ringo Starr co-wrote the contagious rocker "In My Car" and Walsh and J.D. Souther create some pretty, fake Beach Boys harmonies on "The Radio Song" and "Memory Lane." The rest of the album is devoted to generic hard-rock, bad techno-pop and a really dumb antiwar song.
In the late '70s, El Paso's Plugz combined their Tex-Mex and garage-band influences into a distinctive brand of chicano-punk. After years of knocking their heads against the brick wall of the L.A. music industry, the Plugz decided to assimilate: They changed their name to the Cruzados and adopted a mainstream AOR sound.
On first listen, the Cruzados' first album, "After Dark," resembles the folk-rock anthems of Tom Petty, but closer attention reveals that the lyrics and music are both full of unfocused generalities with little sense of passion or risk. Before long, every song begins to sound like the polished hard-rock formula of producer Rodney Mills' better-known project, .38 Special. JOE WALSH --
"Got Any Gum?" (Warner Brothers 9 25606-1).
THE CRUZADOS --
"After Dark" (Arista AL-8439).
Both appearing Friday at Merriweather Post Pavilion.