“Walter Egan? I always thought ‘Magnet And Steel’ was, like, his fifteen minutes.” That was what my friend Jeff said when I told him I had the new album Apocalypso Now, “Songs & Stories by Walter Egan.” Most people who know Walter Egan’s name would probably say the same thing, including Walter himself. But recently, thanks to appearance on soundtracks for Deuce Bigelow and Sabrina the Teenage Witch, people have re-discovered “Magnet And Steel,” resulting in a resurgence in Egan’s popularity. In fact, he has four albums being released in 2002 — a collection of concert performances from 1978, two new albums with former bands The Malibooz and Brooklyn Cowboys, and his new solo effort Apocalypso Now.
The songs on Apocalypso Now are solid, guitar-driven pop-rock, nothing too flashy or heavy. I was immediately reminded of Eddie Cochran on the opening track “Far And Away,” but he switches to a more Jimmy Buffet sound for “Time and the Rain.” As someone who has experienced it, I can say that Egan has effectively translated the “Rain In Tennessee” into music.
The stories section of “Songs & Stories” are present, not only in the song lyrics, but in the liner notes as well. Instead of printing the lyrics to the songs, Walter has included a series of very short stories to be enjoyed along with the music. The five stores (with two of them separated into two parts each) range from poetic descriptions of a hurricane, to the observation of people at a train station, to the beginnings of a science-fiction tale set in a possible future. It was an interesting concept, and while not all of the stories were winners, there are a couple that either put a smile on my face or made me stop and think. I would also be interested in reading more of the science-fiction story he has started.
The album switches tempos, from upswing rocker to soft ballad to old-style country, several times, but each transition seems natural. If you liked “Magnet And Steel” and wondered, “whatever happened to that guy?,” now you have the chance to find out. If you like Tom Petty, Jimmy Buffet, or James Taylor, you should give this disc a listen. Who knows, maybe between all of these releases, Egan has a few more minutes left in that elusive fifteen.