Hotel California (1976)


 
1. Hotel California 2. New Kid in Town 3. Life in the Fast Lane 4. Wasted Time 5. Wasted Time (Reprise) 6. Victim of Love 7. Pretty Maids All in a Row 8. Try and Love Again 9. The Last Resort

 

Just when you thought this band couldn't get any better. This is where the band sort of, maybe unintentionally, got a bit serious. We actually have a bit of a concept record here. Pretty much ditching the whole "country" part of themselves, the guys put together a symbol of the hedonistic, high-living, culturally bare entertainment industry that they found themselves thoroughly, yet unintentionally, immersed. It had only been five years since their first record, and they exploded big, and the climb for this band continued to escalate on a fever pitch. That's not to say things were necessarily easy. You could see the burnout already happening within the band without actually even listening to the lyrics.

Bernie Leadon was now gone, the first member of The Eagles to "leave" (those on the inside debate whether he left voluntarily, or was "pushed"). In his place was good friend, and accomplished solo artist Joe Walsh. With Walsh and Don Felder leading the band in guitar licks and wailing axe duels, a whole new dimension was brought into this band. The opening, haunting riff to the amazing title song is Felder's creation, and matched with Don Henley's chilling lyric about the hypnotizing highlife of the music industry created arguably one of the best known and well loved rock and roll songs ever. This song seemed to epitomize the whole culture of the decade of the 1970s. In fact it's easy to imagine that if the record contained only mediocre songs to accompany the title song, it still would have been a damn fine piece of work. Safe to say the other songs are not mediocre. Life in the Fast Lane is another of the big hit songs. The lyrics seem, in a strange way, to compliment the title track, but the riff here belongs to Joe Walsh and is arguably the hardest song this band ever released. Also in the "materialism is bad and what happened to good ol' fashion nature and happiness" is The Last Resort, a song that never made it big, but every Eagle fan knows and knows well. This was the perfect "ending" to the album.

Joe Walsh's main contribution is the ironically beautiful Pretty Maids All in a Row. This is nothing like anything that I know by Joe Walsh. I'd be lying if I knew what the song was about, but one listen is obviously not nearly enough. Equally beautiful is the Henley/Frey Wasted Time. Again, never a hit, but this song seems to crop up at just about every Eagle show that gets performed. The orchestra reprise of the piece that opens up side 2 is beautiful as well.

Fans of the "old" Eagles will undoubtedly fall in love with New Kid in Town, the acoustically drive light song that shows the guys haven't lost anything in terms of harmonizing together - even they were in sync more onstage than they were off. Randy Meisner's Try to Love Again is a nice piece that sounds very similar in terms of style. His distinctive voice makes it sound unique enough, and you have to wonder if anyone knew it would be his swan song. The only other song Victim of Love doesn't quite measure up to the rest of the album, but it's more "rock" than "country", so it adequately shows the direction of the band.

Sadly all of this success came with a price. Tensions were already high before and during the recording of the album, and with it's success simply meant more money, more commitments and more pressure. All were things which were things they definitely did not need. They would never release anything this good again, but then again, nobody else ever released anything this good to even begin with, so the point is rather moot.

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