Picks and Pans Review: Got Any Gum?

updated 08/31/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/31/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Joe Walsh

When it was reported that our most phlegmatic president, Calvin Coolidge, had died, Dorothy Parker asked, "How can they tell?" Walsh is the Coolidge of rock. Even when he was rocking hardest on the album The Smoker You Drink, the Player You Get, there was a laxness to his style, as if he had decided to lay down some tracks in between a catnap and a siesta. At the time, that laid-back mood was appealing. Lately Walsh has gotten so relaxed about his records that he might as well have stayed in the hammock. There are more cobwebs than exciting moments on Got Any Gum? The songs are simple pop ditties that are affable but gumptionless, hound-dog lazy. Even the jumpy Time, which with its rhythm and blues touches resembles Proud Mary as Brian Wilson might have written it during his reclusive stage, seems bland. Because the songs just shamble along, the few energetic segments stand out dazzlingly. For instance, at the end of In My Car, a throw-away song Walsh wrote years ago with Ringo Starr, Mo Foster and Kim Goody, he builds to a hot guitar solo that's doubly cathartic because it's surrounded by dead air. Walsh can often get away with shagging it because he's got a very sure grip on the building blocks that go into a three-and-a-half-minute rock song. After all, he wasn't stoned the whole time he was with the Eagles. But how do you rationalize the title track, 1:13 minutes of submarine sonar pings and amplifier distortion? There is a typically distinctive, tensile tone to Walsh's guitar playing that is brought out clearly on this LP, produced at Ardent Studios in Memphis. But he's goldbricking. (Warner Bros.)

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