JOE WALSH – Ordinary Average Guy (1991) *HQ*

JOE WALSH - Ordinary Average Guy (1991) - full

JOE WALSH’s long solo career was beginning to wind down by the early Nineties, in part due to a decades long “party” which was starting to take its toll on him personally and professionally. As requested, here’s his ninth solo studio album, ”Ordinary Average Guy”, which is hardly his most heralded or successful – however, this was an important record in the sense that it takes a nostalgic look to the past as well as a sobering assessment of the present.
Ordinary Average Guy” is Walsh going AOR / AC, notable for the inclusion of several fine ballads, a musical area which he had rarely explored to that point in his long career. Generally, fans might think of Walsh in contrast to his crooning Eagles cohorts as harder rocking, edgier, but on this release, the hard-partying guitarist seems more comfortable showing a softer side.
In 1990, Walsh reunited with drummer Joe Vitale to co-produce ”Ordinary Average Guy”. This album also features vocal and composition contributions by former Survivor lead vocalist Jimi Jamison, as well as backing vocals by the legendary Ringo Starr.

The album begins with “Two Sides to Every Story”, co-written by bassist Rick Rosas. It starts with a harmonica lead, accompanied by a basic rock drum beat and chanting vocals and is fun and entertaining overall, albeit lyrically a bit clichéd. The title track, “Ordinary Average Guy”, is a fun bag of sonic candy which acts as a near modern adaptation of the famous “Life’s Been Good”, complete with rock/reggae elements and textures and the spoof-like lyrics.
“The Gamma Goochee” cover song sounds like a great party tune with thumping bass and subtle synths to complement the vocal chanting and call and response crowd effects.

“All of a Sudden” is the first song on the album to depart from the established “party mode”, with somber and introspective lyrics on growing older. Co-written by Jamison, this track showcases fantastic music to match the vibe and mood. With slide electric guitar interludes over some steady synths, this is the high point of ‘Ordinary Average Guy’. Unfortunately, this is immediately followed by “Alphabetical Order”, a pretty insipid pop-rocker.

On the second half of the album, the material is more evened out with accessible AOR / pop&rock. “Look at Us Now” has a rollin’ drum intro with slowly developing, harmonized slide guitar. The song proper maintains the beat while adding riff rudiments to accent the vocals. Jimi Jamison co-writes and sing, which elevates the track.
“I’m Actin’ Different” has an acoustic backing throughout with steady but strong rhythms and a slight Soul vibe as the song goes along. “Up All Night” features some over-the-top 80s synths along with percussive effects, while the cover “You Might Need Somebody” features a unique mix of 1980s Adult Contemporary with Walsh’s persistent talk box guitars leading a built-up layer of fine guitar textures.

The album concludes with a suite of two songs which nod back towards adolescent years. On “Where I Grew up (Prelude to School Days)” a synth arpeggio accompanies the solo Walsh vocals with little additional arrangement, while Vitale’s “School Days” wraps things up with the drummer taking lead vocals in a quasi doo-wop rock with Eighties-style production overtones.

A couple of songs were Mainstream Rock hits, however ”Ordinary Average Guy” failed to break the Top 100 on the Album charts. Similarly, its follow up album in 1992 was equally non-commercial and critically panned, and Walsh would not release another solo album for two solid decades.
But despite including some dud tracks, ”Ordinary Average Guy” has some stupendous songs too, with a sound / production that will please late ’80s aficionados.
Highly Recommended


01. Two Sides To Every Story (Rick Rosas, Walsh)
02. Ordinary Average Guy
03. The Gamma Goochee (John Mangiagli)
04. All of a Sudden (Jimi Jamison, Walsh)
05. Alphabetical Order (Joe Vitale, Walsh)
06. Look At Us Now (Jamison, Walsh)
07. I’m Actin’ Different
08. Up All Night (Vitale, Walsh)
09. You Might Need Somebody (Nan O’Byrne, Tom Snow)
10. Where I Grew Up (Prelude To School Days)
11. School Days (Vitale)

Joe Walsh – guitar, keyboards, vocals
Jimi Jamison – vocals, songwriting
Joe Vitale – keyboards, drums, percussion, bass, vocals
Waddy Wachtel – guitar
Rick Rosas – bass
George “Chocolate” Perry – bass guitar
Chad Cromwell – drums, percussion
Paul Shaffer – piano, keyboards
Wally Cullis – drums, percussion
Larry Otis – saxophone
Ringo Starr – backing vocals
Al Paris – backing vocals
Kelley Hurt – backing vocals
Jeff Rogers – backing vocals



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