Label: Audio Fidelity
Now here is an album I have not heard in a long time and it happens to be one of my all-time favorites. I had the vinyl version when it first came out and distinctly remember playing it several times a week. I liked Joe Walsh’s voice and guitar playing. For this listener both of those factors remain very distinctive to this day.
The Smoker You Drink, The Player You Get (24 Karat Gold) is a stellar piece of diverse rock music, originally released in 1973. I would have to say that Joe Walsh has never topped this solo work since. His place in rock history is secure with his contributions to The James Gang and The Eagles and this particular release launched a very successful solo career.
Audio Fidelity has made an excellent choice to remaster this classic slice of rock music as part of their 24 karat gold releases. Besides the rock anthem “Rocky Mountain Way” this album offers diverse jazz rock fusion inflected instrumental pieces like “Midnight Moodies”. It gives the listener the opportunity to realize the full talent range of Joe’s band at the time that consisted of Joe Vitale (vocals, drums, flute, keyboards, and synthesizer); Rocke Grace (keyboards, vocals), Kenny Passarelli (bass, vocals) and Mr. Walsh provided guitars, vocals, keyboards and synthesizers. The multifaceted talent of this band was allowed to shine through on the nine tracks on this album and now it sounds superior remastered from the original source tapes and given the Audio Fidelity treatment in the gold disc version.
Some of the tracks are atmospheric with dreamy intros like “Wolf” with its beautiful acoustic guitar chased by a piercing electric lead with Walsh providing some of the best vocal tracks of his entire career. “Meadows” which opened side two on the LP has a funny intro with Joe screaming before launching into some fine six-string work. He was one of the clown princes of rock for many years and his antics were well documented prior to him giving up the sauce. This is yet another very strong track with great instrumentation and vocals.
The entire album is unblemished and stands as nine tracks of time tested rock. Really there are no weaknesses which made it an easy choice to make into a special edition 24 karat gold release. It makes it a bit less of a task to remaster and package when all you have to do is capitalize on the strengths of a recording rather than embellish any weaknesses. The original artwork is included with a windowed cardboard sleeve as usual with a nice reproduced tri-fold CD sleeve.
I think Walsh and this album was and still is highly underrated. It is one of the best albums recorded in the 70s and needs to be recognized as such. Hopefully this new version will shed some light on Walsh and the release with new found enthusiasm and gratitude for a superb rock classic now given its just due.
5 / 5 Stars