Long Road Out of Eden (2007)


 
Disc One 1. No More Walks in the Wood 2. How Long 3. Busy Being Fabulous 4. What Do I Do With My Heart 5. Guilty of the Crime 6. I Don't Want to Hear Any More 7. Waiting in the Weeds 8. No More Cloudy Days 9. Fast Company 10.Do Something 11.You Are Not Alone Disc Two 1. Long Road Out of Eden 2. I Dreamed There Was No War 3. Somebody 4. Frail Grasp on the Big Picture 5. Last Good Time in Town 6. I Love To Watch a Woman Dance 7. Business as Usual 8. Center of the Universe 9. It's Your World Now

 

I have to admit - I really really did not want to like this album, nor did I think that I would. As much as I've always loved The Eagles, I got tired of their bitchy, whiney attitude about everything and their obvious hypocrisy. I have no problems with entertainers being political, but please guys, practice what you preach. Anyway, here were some of my complaints:

1. The sacking of Don Felder. My guess is they didn't even want him back when they reunited (when I say "they", I'm referring to the "leaders" Henley and Frey). Here's what I can conclude happened based on limited disclosure: Henley and Frey being much more visible, wanted a bigger chunk of the pie than the rest of the guys. I can see if the arrangement had always been that way, but this just seems like pure greed. Come on, Don and Glen, how much money do you need?? For the record, they "replaced" him with non member Steuart Smith, who did everything Felder could do on the guitar (he even co-writes some of the songs) but since he wasn't an official member, they could pay him a lot less. Therefore, the change really isn't that notable, but still, a brutal move.

2. Several years before this album was released, Don Henley (as he was prone to do) wrote a scathing piece on the music industry - specifically the experience of the shopper and the demise of the "record store". He went on to claim that it was a sad case when the highest music sales were coming from "big box retailers" that used music as a "loss leader" that was preposterous in his mind. Whereas he didn't mention Wal-Mart by name, who else could he have been referring to? So what do they do for the planned release of this record? They make an exclusive deal with Wal-Mart to sell the CD! The only reason was financials. I guess they still didn't have enough money even after kicking Felder out. This made me sick.

3. Personal feelings aside, The Eagles just hadn't put out much worthwhile material as of late. They hadn't put out a "good" full length album since 1976's Hotel California and they had been in the studio (or so it seemed) for a very very long time. You had to wonder, just how dry was the well?

So I had my doubts. As a matter of fact, I didn't even rush to the store when the album was first released, I waited a good, long time (managed to pick it up in the bargain bin for $7.99). Needless to say I was pleasantly surprised. Or maybe instead of saying "pleasantly", I should say "unpleasantly". And maybe instead of saying "surprised", I should say "blown away". Yes, this album is that good. In fact, I would dare say it's the best album they've ever done. O.K., not every one of the 20 songs is perfect, but most of them are great, and at least they put this out as one release when a bean counter could have advise them to stretch it to two albums.

So the first question on everyone's mind before hearing this was, "What exactly is this going to sound like?" It had been more than thirty years since these guys had peaked, so hearing the same sounds and styles of a time long ago wasn't necessarily a given. Then, you take into account that members Henley and Frey did o.k. in the interim with their solo material - which didn't sound much at all like their original band. Plus the fact that, well, it had been more than two decades since those above mentioned solo careers.

What this actually is, is a combination of all the above. The only low point is the lead off song No More Walks in the Wood which is one of their idiotic "protest" songs. It's (thankfully) short, and done mostly acapella. Did it ever occur to these guys that the "environment" that they're trying to protect doesn't get helped when they take chainsaws to their hotel rooms in the name of "fun". Nor does it help to take separate limousines to and from their concerts? O.K. - I'll stop the rants on their politics. Back to the album.

The next song How Long is a perfect introduction to the album. With lead vocals alternating between Frey and Henley and it's distinct Country-Rock feel, it plays as a perfect homage to the band's past and what made them so enjoyable. To a large extent, the song resonates their classic Take it Easy on many fronts - complete with the wonderful five part harmony. The rest of the album flows just as one might expect. It's mostly dominated by Henley and Frey, at least in the vocal department. Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmidt each take a turn getting a couple of vocals in, and for the most part sound as one would expect. Joe Walsh seems to have calmed his wild side down a bit, but his tracks fit well with the overall album and manages to be just as enjoyable as anything else.

The one drawback to the album, is that by the time they get to disc 2, Don Henley's lyrics seem to overwhelm the music. Yes, he has a lot of important stuff to say that fit in with the theme of the album, and writing lyrics has always been a key strength of his. The problem is that on such songs as Frail Grasp on the Big Picture and Business as Usual it seems as though the band forgot that they needed to write some good music to accommodate the message. Many of the Henley sang songs near the end sound a bit too much alike and, depending on your preferences, sound a bit more like Henley's solo work that his contribution as an Eagle.

What is a bit bizarre is that three of the songs clock in at over seven minutes (the title track being over ten), yet curiously none of the sound like they were intended to be "mammoth" pieces. In other words you don't get tired of the songs, and each of them is a welcome addition.

So I was proven wrong. This is a great album. It sure would be nice if they don't wait so long before putting out a follow up.

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