JOE WALSH – ” But Seriously Folks “

Posted: January 2, 2021 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
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His sound is so unique and recognizable that when you hear the name Joe Walsh, one word is the first to come to mind: Guitarist. Walsh, however, is a superb singer, showman and songwriter. Few examples of these skills are quite as obvious as “But Seriously, Folks…”  It’s a tour-de-force released over 40 years ago on May 16th, 1978. It featured his highest-charting solo single in the perfect “Life’s Been Good.” That song contains one of the best lines in music: “I can’t complain, but sometimes I still do.”

Don’t let radio (satellite or terrestrial) define the album by that one song. “But Seriously, Folks…” is 35 minutes of flawless classic rock . It came at a crossroads in music history. The Eagles had completed Hotel California after long, arduous sessions and had crafted a masterpiece. On this Walsh solo album, he had to juggle studio sessions with live dates for “Hotel California”. All of Walsh’s Eagles bandmates appear on the album, as did ex bandmate and drummer Barnstorm Joe Vitale. The eight succinct songs on But Seriously, Folks…and his side gig doing “In the City” for the soundtrack of The Warriors—were a truly creative peak for Joe Walsh.

Maybe too creative a couple of months later, the Eagles went in to record “The Long Run” without a single complete song, actually rerecording “In the City” due to the dearth of new material (and the fact that it’s a great song). 

Producer Bill Szymczyk, who did all the latter-day, best-selling Eagles albums after producing Walsh’s James Gang albums years earlier, agrees that “But Seriously, Folks…” is Walsh’s best work outside The Eagles. When recording the album, he had just won Album of the Year at the Grammys and was on his own career high. Recorded in November of ’76 Walsh had opened Bayshore, his studio in Coconut Grove [Florida]. This was one of the first albums done there. The rehearsals we did on the boat. Originally, we were going to do them at my cabin in [the mountains of] North Carolina. But it was January and there was a foot and a half of snow.

We rented a 70-foot boat called The Endless Seas and on January 23rd, 1977, we loaded up a four-track and a set of drums, a couple of guitars, a couple of small consoles. We sailed down to the Florida Keys for a week or 10 days. The idea was basically just to rehearse. Joe got Vitale from Barnstorm. He had also recruited [bassist] Willie Weeks, the first time I’d worked with him. Bill Szymczyk recruited Jay Ferguson for keys, so everybody was getting to know each other.

Amazingly enough, Joe had the songs together. I think he had pretty much all of them. “At the Station” was a Vitale song; he brought that in. We all did “Theme from Boat Weirdos.” “Over and Over,” “Second Hand Store” and “Indian Summer,” [Walsh] had those. As far as “Life’s Been Good” he had the beginning and the ending. The middle section we did months later.

It’s a nice, succinct album. Yeah, really, 35 minutes. It was a joy to make. It didn’t take very long. To this day I still think it’s the peak of his solo work. That’s about it.

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