Twin Solo Efforts From Two Aging Eagles
Simon Marcus Gower
Twenty years is a long time by anyone’s calculations, and that’s how long it’s been since Joe Walsh and Glenn Frey last released a solo album. The two members of the legendary rock band The Eagles both released albums this year within a few months of each other.
Walsh released his tenth solo album “Analog Man,” while Frey came back with “After Hours,” a mellow mix of hits from the 1940s to the 1960s. Both are their first solo albums since 1992.
Of course, it’s not as if Walsh and Frey have been idle in the meantime. When The Eagles reformed with the album “Hell Freezes Over” in 1994, it was Frey who famously said, “For the record, we never broke up; we just took a 14-year vacation.”
Since returning from vacation, the two have separately produced singles, contributed to other albums and even worked on movie soundtracks. But the most recent solo releases tell listeners so much more about the artists behind the Eagles name.
Walsh’s album is the more directly autobiographical of the two, with most of the songs penned by him alone or with a contributor, reflecting personal experiences.
Walsh has had his tussles with addiction, an influence that can be heard on tracks like “One Day at a Time.” Likewise his hard living has given him an appreciation of what matters in life. In the song “Family” he sings, “All that we have is each other/ And that’s all I really need.”
He sings that song with the help of David Crosby and Graham Nash, while Ringo Starr provides the drumming on “Band Played On.”
But “Analog Man” is by no means an all-star get-together — it is quite distinctively the work of Walsh himself.
Walsh pokes fun at himself in this album, a spirit reflected in the title track. In “Analog Man,” Walsh admits that he is not yet up-to-speed with the digital age, effectively conceding that he is an aging rocker.
“What’s wrong with vinyl? I think it sounds great,” he sings, adding, “Sign on with high speed, you don’t have to wait/ Sit there for days and vegetate.”
Far less challenging is the selection of songs on Frey’s album, “After Hours.” Frey also comes across here as an aging rocker, but a mellowing one at that.
This is an album of covers that are almost entirely love songs. They are mellow, mostly jazzy tunes. The soothing sound is set up from the first track, a piano-based song from the 1940s called “For Sentimental Reasons.”
There is no great innovation here, or rearranging of the originals. These are clearly songs that are dear to Frey, and so in a sense form both a cover album and a tribute album. These are likely songs that shaped Frey as a musician and a writer.
Frey does not change much about these classics and presents them in a way that is very easy on the ear. Most have a jazz feel, but a song like “Worried Mind” comes across as being more country. Throughout, Frey’s voice works well with these songs; his smooth, round tones are distinctive and well-suited to the melodious love tunes.
“Analog Man” and “After Hours” are far from being Eagles albums. Both present these artists for what they are — talented musicians who have much to offer both within the Eagles and without as solo artists.