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I have been a fan of The Eagles for a while now and when I saw a Documentary about the band on TV recently I decided that I would dig out some of their albums again and have a listen to them after not having listened to them for a while. I checked online to see whether they were touring the UK anytime soon and what did I find? To my delight they are Touring right now and I am tempted to go and see them at the O2 in London in a few weeks.
Hotel California is the band''s fifth studio album and first with Joe Walsh who joined the band when he replaced founding member Bernie Leadon. "Hotel California" was also the last Eagles album with bass player and singer Randy Meisner who was also another founding member. The album was released on 8th December 1976 and is their biggest album in terms of sales with over 32 million copies sold worldwide. It represented a growth in the bands style and musicianship. The album was critically acclaimed.
1.) Hotel California
This is one of my favourite songs of all time, It''s a dynamic and well structured track which really showcases the musical ability of the band. Whilst there have been many interpretations of the song, The band say it is their "interpretation of the high life in Los Angeles".whatever the meaning it''s a superb song with smooth vocals from Don Henley and dynamic guitar work from the guitar trio of Glenn Frey, Joe Walsh and Don Felder. It;s Walsh''s playing that is the most impressive though with a superb solo which sounds wonderful and has a real bite.
2.) New Kid in Town
This is a more country orientated track with some catchy hooks and gentle percussion. Glenn Frey takes on lead vocals here and he gives one of his best lead vocal performances with a natural, relaxed delivery that is backed well by the rest of the band. This track is a great example of the bands vocal harmonies which were so key to their music. There''s a gentle guitar solo that tops things off well and keeps the gentle mood.
3.) Life in the fast lane
This is another of the more dynamic Rock songs that feature on this album, Don Henley is on vocal duties here and puts in a gritty, distinctive vocal on this vibrant up tempo rock track which has some great licks and has a Southern Rock feel akin to Lynyrd Skynyrd or ZZ Top. Joe Walsh showcases his great guitar ability with some excellent licks and a fine solo. It''s one of the best tracks on the album and has a real toe tapping sound.
4.) Wasted Time
This is a fantastic song which takes the album into a more emotive feel with a fine ballad, performed by Don Henley who shows why he is the main singer from a band that share vocal duties more than most. I love the way this song builds and the beautiful strings and piano really play a part in making this one of their best songs. Don Henley''s touching vocals are brilliant and the guitar work from Joe Walsh is again superb,.
5.) Wasted time (reprise)
This is a short instrumental interlude which carries on from the previous track to close out the track with a really beautiful orchestral sequence which really drives home the incredible eclectic range of the band. Superbly done
6.) Victim of Love
This track gets things back to a vibrant up tempo sound with a loud Rock sound with biting guitars and gritty vocals from Don Henley. I love the contrast of the gritty guitars and the smooth vocal harmonies which really work well together. This track really showcases the new sound that the band had developed by this point. It is part of what made the band become split as they went in a more rock orientated direction instead of keep to the country rock roots
7.) Pretty maids all in a row
This is the sole track with lead vocals from Joe Walsh, He performs the song with a nice, relaxed vocal and of course produces some great guitar licks. The simple drum beat from Don Henley sets up the song perfectly and this really shows a different side to Joe Walsh and really showcases the overall vocal ability of the band as a whole as they all took turns on lead vocals. Something rare for a band with most just having a lead singer.
8.) Try and love again
Another different lead vocal here and this is the sole lead vocal from Randy Meisner, Ir''s a nicely performed track with some gentle, soulful bass tones and a nice vocal harmony which underpins the track well. The guitar sound develops and compliments the vocals. I like the way the song develops and also how it''s topped off by the guitar work which is quite gentle and emotive. .
9.) The last resort
This is the final track on the album and was written by Don Henley and Glenn Frey. It''s the longest song on the album and is about "how man inevitably destroys the places he finds beautiful" It''s a subtle and emotive ballad with some lovely slide guitar and piano. The gentle drums from Henley combine well with the rest of the instrumentation and I like the way the song develops. It''s a fine end to the album and fits well with the rest of the album too.
This is a fantastic album, It''s certainly one of the greatest albums of all time in my book. It not only represents an album of great quality but also a shift in their music. These songs may have been recorded nearly 40 years ago but many of the themes are still relevant today and that is the sign of a great album and boy is this a great album. It''s diverse, is crammed with fine musicianship and the vocals are well judged and the songs have meaning. When you hear it you are in no doubt of why it was ranked number 37 on Rolling Stone''s list of "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. I''d probably rate it even higher than that myself.
Also posted on ciao as jcneil
Released towards the end of 1976, The Eagles' 'Hotel California' is arguably one of the greatest albums of all times, featuring at least three tracks which could be considered to be genuine rock classics. Hotel California represents the Eagles' fifth studio album, and the first offering which featured guitarist Joe Walsh who stepped in to replace original band member Bernie Leadon. Walsh's influence is apparent straight away, as he's responsible for the second part of the awesome guitar solo on the title track - but more on that later. In terms of its critical success, the album was an instant hit, selling over nine million copies in its first year of release. This pushed the band into the realms of superstardom, and to date, the album has sold over twenty million copies worldwide - an impressive feat.
Hotel California feels very much like a concept album of sorts, and the revisiting of themes throughout the tracks makes the record the closest that the Eagles have come to the genre of 'rock opera'. This is the Eagles at the peak of their creative abilities - harmonious, focussed, and far removed from the fragmented group of later years which eventually disbanded in 1980 (before reforming in '94).
It's a actually quite rare for a album's title track to be placed as position one on the track listing - but here 'Hotel California' takes pride of place. Intricate guitar picking makes way for a stunning bass-line which pops up and hits you like a brick wall of sound. This is rock music with a reggae beat - and it works beautifully. The iconic guitar riff in the middle (Don Felder and Joe Walsh) is quite simply a soaring work of art. In fact, I would describe it as one of the most recogniseable and impressive in the history of modern music. The track itself has been subject to all manner of conspiracy theories as to what it's actually about, but Don Henley has put the myths to bed, claiming "It's a song about the dark underbelly of the American Dream, and about excess in America, which was something we knew about" - whatever Don, we all know it's about devil worship "You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave..."
My second favorite track (which just happens to be track number 2) is 'Life in the Fast Lane', which opens with another of the most iconic guitar riffs of all time - distorted, funky, and seriously cool. It's a riff which has been sampled many times, but has never sounded better than here in its original form. This particular track represents the album's secondary commercial success after Hotel California, and it too hints at the themes of wanton excess which the album is said to refer to - "Life in the fast lane... Everything, all the time".
Hotel California is certainly an album of two distinct sounds - there's the fast paced rock as seen in tracks one and two, and then there's a selection of country-esque numbers such as 'New Kid in Town'. Here, we have a soft and laid back track which wouldn't seem out of place wafting from the jukebox of an Arizona gas station / diner - it really is a prime example of late 70's Mid-West easy listening - not overly ambitious or technically superb, but it works. To be honest, it has a similar sound to what one might expect to hear on a second rate Bryan Adams album - but here it's acceptable listening due to various examples of great harmonisation on the chorus, and creative chord changes which places it firmly in the realms of quality songwriting.
'Wasted Time' represents one of Hotel California's slower numbers - yet it's a beautifully crafted song which features thoughtful lyrics and great use of an orchestral backing. The track is followed by 'Wasted Time (Reprise)' - the two pieces representing the last track on the first side of the original vinyl version, and the first track of side two. The reprise is simply an instrumental, and it works to provide the listener with a decent break from the country / rock tracks which surround it.
Picking up the pace, 'Victim of Love' sees Don Henley's pitch perfect and gravely vocals on top form - although the lyrics themselves are arguably a little weak. A funky and distorted guitar riff, combined with pounding percussion creates a foot-tapping piece, and the haunting chorus once again reverts back to the country overtones which are prevalent in many of the other tracks.
If you mentioned 'Try and Love Again', most people wouldn't recongnise the track by name, but would perhaps be familiar with the opening riff which has been sampled a number of times over the years. This one is basically a love song, and is catchy through and through. That said, it's not one of my favourite Hotel California tracks, but *is* without doubt a technically adept piece which demonstrates varied use of creative guitar picking.
Of course it's quite rare for an album to come to pass without it's fair share of non-desrcript tracks (often described as 'filler'), and in the case of Hotel California, it comes in the form of 'Pretty Maids all in a Row', and 'The Last Resort'. The latter being an epic seven-minutes-and-twenty-eight seconds of overtly soppy soft-rock. In fairness, Eagles founding member Glen Frey has described it as Don Henley's greatest work, and if you analyze the cutting lyrics one might agree - however, it's not my cup of tea.
Overall, Hotel California is undoubtedly one of Rock's seminal albums - combining a selection of awesome riffs with fantastic vocals and creative percussion. Read into the numerous hidden themes and meanings as deep as you like, but at the end of the day it's just a beautifully produced and seriously cool record which marked a turning point for the Eagles, sealing their place in rock folklore as 'the real deal'. Whilst it may not be to everyone's taste, the album is a must for any rock enthusiasts collection - one of the top albums of the 1970's.
1. "Hotel California" (Felder, Henley, Frey) - 6:30
2. "New Kid in Town" (J.D. Souther, Henley, Frey) - 5:03
3. "Life in the Fast Lane" (Walsh, Henley, Frey) - 4:46
4. "Wasted Time" (Henley, Frey) - 4:55
5. "Wasted Time (Reprise)" (instrumental) (Henley, Frey, Jim Ed Norman)
6. "Victim of Love" (Felder, Souther, Henley, Frey) - 4:11
7. "Pretty Maids All in a Row" (Walsh, Joe Vitale) - 3:58
8. "Try and Love Again" (Meisner) - 5:10
9. "The Last Resort" (Henley, Frey) - 7:28
Hotel California on CD can currently be purchased for £6.58 from amazon - unfortunately it's one of those rare albums which isn't available a digital download.
The sound of this album is really true late 1970’s type music, with great electric guitar playing and meaningful lyrics that are sung really well. The Eagles are a group that everybody who listened to music at that time would have heard of, but when you ask people to name their music it is normally only “Hotel California” that they can easily remember. For me this album always takes me back to hot sunny Summers when I was in my twenties. Great years and great music. There are only nine tracks on this album and these are: Hotel California. This is the title track and the greatest track on the album, if not the greatest record that The Eagles have ever made. The guitar playing on this track is just awesome and totally addictive. A very powerful song that starts with such a gentle introduction that just drifts you into this great track. Although I must admit I have no idea what the lyrics are about at all, it is just a great sound that I really enjoy. New Kid in Town. There is a definite modern country sound to this track. This is a slower track with good harmonies and softer sounds. This is another one of my favourite tracks on this album. Life in the Fast Lane. This is more of a funky sound and I don’t think this track works so well as it is not really the traditional style of The Eagles. You certainly won’t drop to sleep during this noisy track. Wasted Time. This is a beautiful slow ballad that I feel any modern boy band would be pleased to add to their repertoire. It is very moving, powerful song. Wasted Time (Reprise). This is a very strange part of the album that I have never really understood why it is included. It is a fully orchestral end to the previous track that sounds more like the end of a classic film rather than a track on a music album. Victim of Love. I don’t like start of this track, although it does get better
with some good guitar playing later on. This is a track I often skip. Pretty Maids all in a Row. You can imagine that there have been a lot of slow dances to this track. It is a very sloppy sentimental song, apart from the very silly title. A good track. Try and Love Again. The Eagles always looked like hippies and this country style track has a good hippie feel about it, with lots of talk of love. I really do like this track, it has a very welcoming feel to it. I would imagine this would be very popular at live concerts. The Last Resort. This is a really good ballad to finish off the album. The track has a lot of good production work and rounds off the album in a very powerful way with this really strong song. Overall there is a bit of a mixture on this album. There is the great “Hotel California” and the lovely ballad “Wasted Time”, but the not so great “Victim of Love”. Whenever I play this album I always want to listen to “Hotel California” really loud, but after that it is the type of music that is good to play during a meal, where you can enjoy good food with good music. It is definitely an album that I would replace if it got damaged.
Apart from compilations, 'Hotel California' was easily the Eagles' biggest seller on both sides of the Atlantic. In some respects it was their artistic peak, a meticulously-crafted collection of songs about disillusion and the tarnished American dream. But in retrospect it was a clinical album which reflected the precision and hours of studio time which had gone into it, lacking something of the spontaneity and spirit of their earlier work. Above all, the title track is one of those songs which, good as it is, has been devalued by over-familiarity. More than 20 years later it's rarely off the radio, so let's concentrate on the other highlights. Tracks 2 and 3 were also singles, the country-rock ballad 'New Kid In Town', and the harder-rocking, more funky 'Life In The Fast Lane'. Jibes about "the Eagles go disco" have tended to overshadow the intensity of Joe Walsh's killer guitar work on this, or the venom of the lyrics, about the lifestyle of contemporary Americans in pursuit of hedonism and a glamorous lifestyle, unwilling to slow down. (It could just as easily be the group pointing an ironic finger at themselves). A similarly stinging guitar riff gives 'Victim Of Love' plenty of power, and the lyric of the deceptively laid-back 'Wasted Time' conceals another fierce lyric. On the minus side, 'Try And Love Again' is a gentle, more pretty song which would sound rather insubstantial were it not for the attractive vocal harmonies, and 'Pretty Maids All in a Row' fails to ignite. But all is redeemed by the final track, 'The Last Resort' a gorgeous 7-minute epic ballad and showcase for Don Henley's world-weary vocal that, wonder of wonders, John Peel played with admiration night after night on his Radio 1 show in its entirety while simultaneously praising the Pistols and Clash for ridding us of bland turgid American rock! For all its faults it
's a good album overall, but over-exposure has taken the edge off it, and you're left with the feeling that a little less polish would have been an advantage.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Hotel California
2 New Kid In Town
3 Life In The Fast Lane
4 Wasted Time
5 Wasted Time (2)
6 Victim Of Love
7 Pretty Maids All In A Row
8 Try And Love Again
9 Last Resort