ON THIS DATE (34 YEARS AGO)
May 16, 1978 – Joe Walsh: But Seriously, Folks… is released.
# ALL THINGS MUSIC PLUS+ 4/5
# allmusic 4.5/5
# Rolling Stone (see original review below)
“But Seriously, Folks…” is the fourth studio album by Joe Walsh, released on this date in May, 1978. It included the satirical song “Life’s Been Good”. The original eight-minute album version of this track was edited down to 4½ minutes for single release and this became Walsh’s biggest solo hit, peaking at #12 on the Billboard chart. The album itself peaked at #8 on the Billboard chart.
The album also features the other four members of the Eagles—which Walsh had joined two years earlier—as well as singer-guitarist Jay Ferguson, a former member of the group Spirit (who co-wrote one track on the album), drummer Joe Vitale from Walsh’s former band Barnstorm, and bassist Willie Weeks.
Original pressings of this record had text engraved on the carry-out grooves:
Side 1: Luncheon Counter of the Deli Kind
Side 2: Call It In the Air!
ORIGINAL ROLLING STONE REVIEW
Joe Walsh seemed an odd choice as Eagle-come-lately because he has a sense of humor; he’s a mensch, not an Übermensch. Presumably, Henley, Frey & Co. wanted him for his guitar playing. Walsh added enormous punch to Hotel California — he’s the one who kicks “Life in the Fast Lane” into fifth gear — but good as that album was, it hardly left room for Walsh’s bizarre brand of self-depreciation. For that, he has to make his own records.
“But Seriously, Folks…” — whose jacket pictures Walsh relaxing at a cafe that is unremarkable except for the fact that it’s underwater — is a triumph in the grand tradition of So What? and You Can’t Argue with a Sick Mind. (Since Walsh is now signed to Asylum, shouldn’t he have called the new disc Voluntary Commitment, or something like that?) The sound is full of brilliant highlights, and the songs are good, though not as carefully written as Pete Townshend’s, with whom Walsh shares a lot, and not as lazy as Jimmy Buffett’s, with whom Walsh shares too much. On the other hand, not having to try very hard is pretty much what the album is about — “Theme from Boat Weirdos,” a delightful instrumental, comes off like a backing track for which Walsh couldn’t be bothered to find lyrics — and what makes Walsh’s celebration of ease so much fun is that he’s never arrogant. He’s befuddled, but he won’t look a gift horse in the mouth — a phrase that might well turn up as the title of his next LP.
The best thing here is clearly “Life’s Been Good,” an eight-minute reverie on the absurdity of success (what’s absurd to Walsh is that he’s successful). It starts off with dramatic guitar figures — this is the Big One, the music announces — and then drops into bubblegum reggae for the world’s least dramatic autobiography: “My Maserati does one-eighty-five/I lost my license/Now I don’t drive.” It’s a tale of a rich, carefree rock star, laughing at the world that has given him his pleasures, and laughing as well at his ability to enjoy them without a twinge of guilt — or even a hint of the self-pity such songs conventionally use as a substitute for soul. “I can’t complain,” Walsh admits. “But sometimes I still do.”
As always, Walsh sings in his filtered, tinny whine — he sounds as if he’s coming from across the street, an odd contrast to the full presence of his guitar and the band — but after a while you get used to it. He’s got a lot of Keith Moon in him, and the quality of his voice simply cops to the fact that he’s not quite all there, aurally or otherwise. Queer as his voice may be, Joe Walsh is never as hoked up as Tom Petty, but then he doesn’t take himself as seriously either. Long may he keep on not doing so.
~ Greil Marcus (August 10, 1978)
All songs by Joe Walsh, except where noted.
“Over and Over” – 4:53
“Second Hand Store” (Murphy, Walsh) – 3:35
“Indian Summer” – 3:03
“At the Station” (Joe Vitale, Walsh) – 5:08
“Tomorrow” – 3:39
“Inner Tube” – 1:25
“Theme from Boat Weirdos” (Jay Ferguson, Bill Szymczyk, Vitale, Walsh, Willie Weeks) – 4:43
“Life’s Been Good” – 8:04