Personnel: Joe Walsh (vocals, guitar); Joe Vitale (flute, keyboards, drums); Rocke Grace (keyboards, background vocals); Kenny Passarelli (bass instrument, background vocals); Clydie King, Venetta Fields (background vocals).
"Rocky Mountain Way," the tune that opens Joe Walsh's sophomore release (and remains one of his best-known songs), is a textbook example of Walsh's strengths. The song is driven by a slinky hard rock groove that boasts crunchy, distorted guitars, barrelhouse piano, wiry solos, and a catchy, singalong chorus--proving Walsh's penchant for mixing rock elements and radio-ready accessibility with a sense of wit and fun. The rest of SMOKER YOU DRINK, PLAYER YOU GET follows suit, with the mid-tempo rock ballad "Bookends," the bouncy, Latin-tinged "Happy Ways," and the airy, wistful "Dreams" keeping the stylistic mix lively.
Walsh is flanked here by Kenny Pasarelli on bass and Joe Vitale on drums, keyboards, and flute. Production help from Bill Szymczyk helps give the record its signature sound--simultaneously chunky and slick--and brings the effects-heavy sound of Walsh's guitar to the fore. But this is ultimately Walsh's show: he knows how to rock, lilt, and craft a pop hook, all the while maintaining levity with his off-hand vocal delivery and playful lyrics. SMOKER YOU DRINK, PLAYER YOU GET is a solid slice of FM rock fare, and is still one of the standouts in Walsh's solo discography.