“Hotel California” by Eagles - album review

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TJR says

One of the biggest selling albums of all-time, and their second successive #1 in the Billboard 200. It's a bit of a concept affair as Don Henley explained: “They're the same themes that run through all of our work: loss of innocence, the cost of naiveté, the perils of fame, of excess; exploration of the dark underbelly of the American dream, idealism realized and idealism thwarted, illusion versus reality, the difficulties of balancing loving relationships and work, trying to square the conflicting relationship between business and art; the corruption in politics, the fading away of the Sixties dream of "peace, love and understanding.

The 5-piece line-up Glenn Frey (guitars, vocals, keyboards), Don Henley (drums, percussion, vocals, synthesizer), Don Felder (guitars, backing vocals), Randy Meisner (bass, vocals, guitarrón) and Joe Walsh (guitars, keyboards, vocals). Upset at his country influence on the group being on the wane, founding member Bernie Leadon had left in late '75 and was replaced by 'wild' Joe Walsh, supposedly complementing the subtle shift away from country to mainstream rock. Can't say that I notice too much difference myself, although the album raises a whole point in my ratings system; where I found them to be an embarrassment in '75 I merely hear them as dire this time around.

It all starts off so well too, with the epic environmentally friendly story song, “Hotel California”, nicely built on a folk-rock dubbeat. Don Henley explained a little about the meaning behind it: “This is a concept album, there's no way to hide it, but it's not set in the old West, the cowboy thing, you know. It's more urban this time. It's our bicentennial year, you know, the country is 200 years old, so we figured since we are the Eagles and the Eagle is our national symbol, that we were obliged to make some kind of a little bicentennial statement using California as a microcosm of the whole United States, or the whole world, if you will, and to try to wake people up and say 'We've been okay so far, for 200 years, but we're gonna have to change if we're gonna continue to be around.

Alas, normal service is resumed immediately with the rank-rotten “New Kid In Town” which was chosen as the album's lead single and gave them a huge #1 smash. What do people hear that I don't I wonder? It's just so weedy, yet Eagles afficianados list this as one of their greatest songs. This was one of three singles lifted from the LP, the next being the aforementioned “Hotel California” which gave them yet another #1 hit, followed up by “Life In The Fast Lane” (#11), where the rock animal (not really) Joe Walsh is finally allowed to let rip (relatively speaking), as they make like ZZ Top's cute little brother band. Opening up side two is a 90 seconds orchestral piece, “Wasted Time (Reprise)”, arranged by Jim Ed Norman, who was an old college friend of Don Henley's in Texas and had played with Don in the band Felicity at that time. The half-time respite from the tedium is most welcome, even if it is only temporary.

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [06:30] 5.1.png Eagles - Hotel California (Don Felder, Don Henley, Glenn Frey) Folk Rock / Americana
A2 [05:03] 2.0.png Eagles - New Kid In Town (Don Henley, Glenn Frey, John David Souther) Soft Rock / A.O.R.
A3 [04:46] 2.6.png Eagles - Life In The Fast Lane (Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Joe Walsh) Soft Rock / A.O.R.
A4 [04:55] 3.0.png Eagles - Wasted Time (Don Henley, Glenn Frey) Soft Rock / A.O.R.
B1 [01:22] 4.0.png Eagles - Wasted Time (Reprise) (Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Jim Ed Norman) Contemporary Classical
B2 [04:11] 2.7.png Eagles - Victim Of Love (Don Felder, Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Souther) Rock
B3 [03:58] 2.2.png Eagles - Pretty Maids All In A Row (Joe Walsh, Joe Vitale) Soft Rock / A.O.R.
B4 [05:10] 1.8.png Eagles - Try And Love Again (Randy Meisner) Soft Rock / A.O.R.
B5 [07:28] 2.4.png Eagles - The Last Resort (Don Henley, Glenn Frey) Pop Ballad

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