JOE VITALE - Roller Coaster Weekend (1974) & Plantation Harbor (1981)
A multi-instrumentalist, Vitale is most known for his close work with Joe Walsh. On this, his first solo album, he's responsible for most of the music, playing everything from drums and keyboards to flute and tympani. Filling out the other slots is a mini-guitar army of Rick Derringer, Walsh, and Phil Keaggy. Yet, despite such luminaries, it's not a guitar show-off album. Rather, it's a song-oriented album, and the three guitarists always work in service to the songs. Yet, the songs are not particularly strong and, despite the production team of Ron Albert and Howard Albert (Derek and the Dominoes' Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, the Allman Brothers' Eat a Peach, and other legendary albums), the album never quite gets off the ground. One standout, however, is "Falling," which was borrowed in part for Walsh's later "At the Station."
Plantation Harbor is a dated sounding, but decent, collection of light and airy late 1970s/early 1980s rock. Long-time musical partner Joe Walsh guests on the album, as do a bevy of other similarly styled musicians, including Timothy B. Schmidt, Don Felder, Stephen Stills, and Graham Nash. "Theme From Cabin Weirdos" is another in the series of atmospheric "Weirdo" instrumentals ("Theme From Boat Weirdos," "Theme From Island Weirdos," etc.) that Walsh and Vitale have placed on albums, but is less interesting than the others. Ultimately, the rest of the album is also similar to Joe Walsh's albums, but unfortunately without the strong hooks or the bite.
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