Sunday, 24 February 2019

The Eagles - Hotel California (1976)


Released December 1976

This was The Eagles’ huge, multi-million selling album, the moment that they became a massive stadium-filling band. It arrived eighteen months after their previous outing, “One Of These Nights”. The departure of Bernie Leadon had taken much of the band’s initial country flavour from them and rock guitarist Joe Walsh’s arrival saw them taking a big leap from being a country rock band that tried to rock out heavily on occasions to a fully-fledged mainstream rock band. Don Henley also became the band’s main vocalist, featuring on six tracks here. In many ways, The Eagles on this, and on their final album, “The Long Run”, sound like a different band. This material is a long way from “Doolin-Dalton” and “Desperado”, it is far more big stadium or arena tour than dusty roadhouse.


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                                  

Everyone knows the atmospheric title track. “New Kid In Town” is laid-back, melodic rock balladry and the solid “Life In The Fast Lane” is The Eagles having learnt to rock out, stadium-style.

“Wasted Time” is very much like some of the material on Don Henley’s solo albums. “Victim Of Love” is a muscular but catchy mid-paced rocker. Both “Pretty Maids All In A Row” and “Try And Love Again” are big, powerful rock ballads once more. The latter has Randy Meisner on lead vocals, the former features Joe Walsh. This is classic rock as opposed to country rock. The final track, “The Last Resort” is a sublime slow romantic ballad, well sung by Don Henley. It is my favourite on the album.

Look, this album is undoubtedly an album that will be remembered as a classic of its genre, but whether it is an actual, bona fide classic is debatable. It is a short album of very listenable, immaculately played rock songs, but does it amount to an album of copper-bottomed classics? Probably not, in my opinion, but there you go. Nothing makes you think “wow”. On the other hand, you can’t deny it has something, particularly the opening and closing tracks. However many times you hear the title track, it always has that atmosphere to it. Overall, though, I prefer the more raw, unpolished feel of their earlier albums.


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