Backbeat: Joe Walsh Rocks Troubadour, Irving Azoff With Ringo -- and First New Songs In 20 Years
Backbeat: Joe Walsh Rocks Troubadour, Irving Azoff With Ringo -- and First New Songs In 20 Years

WEST HOLLYWOOD -- A private party to introduce Joe Walsh's first album of original music in 20 years started comical, included a sales pitch and ended with "Rocky Mountain Way" -- featuring Ringo Starr on drums -- at the Troubadour on Wednesday.

Irving Azoff with Joe Walsh at the Troubadour. (Photo: Ross Brubeck)

The pitch followed a striking rendition of 1975's "Turn to Stone," a song from the pre-Eagles days when Walsh was an under-the-radar guitar hero known mostly for the James Gang and "Rocky Mountain Way." "I'm available for soundtracks , TV and commercials," Walsh said before rattling off credits that include a recent ESPN NFL theme song and the not-so-recent "Fast Times at Ridgemont High." "I'm starving, being in the Eagles." Always the comedian.

Actually, he was speaking to the right crowd. The party, catered by the Troubadour's neighbor Dan Tana's, was heavily populated with music supervisors and film and TV music executives such as Billboard Power 100 member/Paramount's Randy Spendlove, The Weinstein Co.'s Richard Glasser, Lionsgate's Tracy McKnight and NBC Universal's Alicen Schneider. Glasser is a long-time fan, whose chat with Power 100 topper Irving Azoff bounced between tales of seeing the James Gang in their early days with music opportunities in a new movie. Azoff, whose Front Line manages Walsh, attended the show before heading across town to see Van Halen perform.

The Billboard Power 100

Inaudible Productions, the company owned by music supervisor Peter Afterman, put on the event and in addition to David Crosby, Stewart Copeland, Starr and Jeff Lynne, the crowd included a slew of music supervisors, among them Gary Calamar, Chris Mollere, Billy Gottlieb and Elias Arts' Jason Kramer plus film music editor Curt Sobel.

Walsh and his band performing with Ringo Starr. (Photo: Ross Brubeck)

Taking a break from Grammy Awards preparations were executive producer Ken Ehrlich, writer David Wild and the Recording Academy's Terry Lickona, all of whom agreed Walsh has not lost a step and his new song "(I'm Just) Lucky That Way" is as good as anything in his catalog.

Walsh introduced four songs from the album, title track "Analog Man," "Wrecking Ball," "(I'm Just) Lucky That Way" and an instrumental, "India." "I wanted to name it 'The Sound of Irving', like the 'Sound of Music' because he said 'you have to have an instrumental,'" Walsh said before the show. "I told him (the title) and he said 'that's stupid.'" So he changed it.

Jeff Lynne (above left), who joined Walsh's six-piece band for two songs, produced the album that features Walsh originals co-written with Tommy Lee James, a writer the late Barbara Orbison introduced him to. Slated for a May release -- Walsh finished mastering it last week -- distribution is still up in the air.

"I have tried to write about the world as I see it," Walsh said, explaining the logic behind the album title. "There are two worlds now - (digital) and the old world, analog. For a lot of us, we've had to make adjustment. I'm concerned that there's no time in digital. It's frozen. When you come out of (a digital experience) it's three days later and you have a beard... Every kid under 12 can land the Space Shuttle but nobody can read."

(Photo: Ross Brubeck)

After expressing his thoughts about the future, Walsh turned to his past and the most common question he gets asked, all of which are about "Life's Been Good." He explained the construction of each musical segment and how they came together -- basically scraps of several unfinished songs glued together -- before going through the tune line by line. He attributes - or one could say blames - Keith Moon for his delight in destructive behavior and Walsh essentially said every line in the song is true, except he's not the guy who wrecked the cars and he didn't have his drivers license revoked. "Actually I lost my wallet," he said.

Stories finished, he launched into "Life's Been Good" and delivered a half-hour show before calling it a night.