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How Joe Walsh Stumbled on ‘You Bought It, You Name It’

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Maybe it seemed funny at the time, but Joe Walsh’s goofy You Bought It – You Name It too often stumbles in its attempt to sustain a joke over the length of an album.

It’s a shame. In many ways, You Bought It – You Name It had all of the ingredients to be another solid effort. Arriving as it did after Walsh’s chart success in 1981 with “Life of Illusion,” and boasting a few notable contributions from his erstwhile bandmates in the then-dormant Eagles, You Bought It – You Name It might just have worked if Walsh hadn’t spent almost the entire time trying to be the Clown Prince of Rock.

Instead, the results include many groaners. There was no hit on the order of “Life of Illusion,” which went to No. 32 two summers before. Instead, Walsh indulges in a reggaed-up songbook standard (“Love Letters”), a silly video game-themed song (“Space Age Whiz Kids”) that arrived a couple of years too late, and the block-headed “I.L.B.T.s,” which simply sinks under the weight of its frat-house premise.

That said, defenders can still point to plenty of guitar-slinging gusto. For instance, “I Told You So” is a muscular success, thanks in part to a tangy contribution from former Eagles buddy Don Felder. The same goes for “I Can Play That Rock ‘n’ Roll,” though the latter certainly won’t win any composition awards. “Here We Are Now,” with Don Henley on backing vocals, is a hooky delight, while “Class of 65″ offers a sorely needed – but all too brief – moment of introspection.

“Theme From Island Weirdos,” another of Walsh’s by-then patented album-closing instrumentals, ends things on an appropriate note – like a fever dream after a long night of partying where bad decisions were made.

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