The End of the Innocence (1989)


 
1. The End of the Innocence 2. How Bad Do You Want It 3. I Will Not Go Quietly 4. The Last Worthless Evening 5. New York Minute 6. Shangri-La 7. Little Tin God 8. Gimme What You Got 9. If Dirt Were Dollars 10.The Heart of the Matter

 

In many ways, Don Henley simply picks up from where he left off on his last solo album 5 years ago. You could argue that this is almost a carbon copy of his last release. There are many similarities - same co-producers (Danny Kortchmar and Greg Ladanyi), same gloomy reflections on the worst of the worst in pop culture, and a plethora of guest artists including Sheryl Crow, Bruce Hornsby, Melissa Etheridge and Axl Rose to help out with the songs.

The title track is co-written with Bruce Hornsby, and his clacking piano makes this incredibly apparent. It sounds just like a Hornsby solo song until Henley starts chiming in with his lyrics. Lyrically, the song is actually quite similar to the last album opener The Boys of Summer, basically a fond, sad reflection of a joyous past that is no more. This track is a bit more mature in its dealings as it mentions lawyers and Ronald Reagan (indirectly) which tends to spoil a bit of the fun, but Henley always seemed to enjoy wearing his political heart on his sleeve. Anyway, the song won several awards, and to Henley's credit, his lyrics really do add to the overall quality of most of the songs that he writes - even though they can be preachy and depressing.

Other hits are the adult contemporary standards The Last Worthless Evening and, arguably his best song ever as a solo artist, The Heart of the Matter which is one of the best beer drinking breakup songs around. He stretches himself a bit on some of the rockers on the album such as How Bad Do You Want It and the revenge tinted I Will Not Go Quietly which features Axl Rose yelping some quality background vocals. Both of those songs are superb, even though they never received much (if any) radio airplay.

To be honest, some of the songs wear a bit thin. Gimme What You Got is a bit too preachy - even for Henley's standards. I've never appreciated fat cat musicians that seem to whine and moan about greed when they seem to live higher on the hog than any of the white collar conservatives they seem to demonize. The melody here is almost non-existent, which means we don't feel like we're listening to a song, but were having a sermon pushed down our throats.

It's a small sin, since there's so much else to enjoy. It's kind of sad that Henley seemed to only put out a new album about once per decade, but maybe he just didn't have that many good ideas to justify more releases. If that was the case here, it's forgivable. This was definitely worth the five year wait.

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