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The Long Run - Eagles

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Genre: Country - Country Rock / Artist: Eagles / Audio CD released 1999-10-01 at Warner

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      28.05.2002 01:01
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      Between 1972 and 1976 the Eagles made and released one album a year. Without exception they were all of a pretty high standard. After that the problems of trying to top No. 5, the mega-successful ‘Hotel California’, group in-fighting between front men Glenn Frey and Don Henley, and probably a few dubious substances too, soured things. Three years later came their last studio set, their equivalent of the Beatles’ ‘Let It Be’. By common consent it’s the worst. Perhaps it’s not uniformly that bad, but alongside its predecessors it sounds uninspired and lethargic. Maybe the most irritating thing is that almost half the tracks start off well, but just fail to develop, as if the group had an idea in the studio but couldn’t be bothered to take it much further. It starts off promisingly with the tracks released as the second and third singles. First is the mid-tempo title track, featuring Don’s philosophical vocals about how things work out “in the long run”, and a neat guitar solo that manages to sound smooth and just slightly fierce at the same time. Opinions are divided on the second, ‘I Can’t Tell You Why’. The sole showcase on this album for new bassist Timothy B. Schmit, some think this one of the greatest ballads by a rock band ever. Frankly, it sounds to me like a poor Bee Gees imitation. The pretty, falsetto vocal would be OK if it had a song of the calibre of the Gibb Brothers’ best to work on, but the song is no great shakes to start with. ‘In The City’, apparently more or less a solo track by Joe Walsh, is another ‘good as far as it goes’ case. Opening with crashing guitar chords, a nice hook, and Joe’s trademark slide guitar, it would be good if only they (or he) had developed the chorus better. And it suffers from the same fault as several subsequent tracks; Don just isn’t pulling his weigh
      t on the drums, only hitting the snare and cymbal or hi-hat, as if he’s just warming up, or nursing a hangover. With a rather crass novelty title like ‘Disco Strangler’, the next track has got to be good. And it starts off promisingly, with some funky guitar phrases reminiscent of the previous album’s ‘Life In The Fast Lane’. However, like ‘In The City’, it’s just undeveloped, delivers a few lyrics about a girl on the dance floor who fancies herself because she knows she’s so pretty, her admirer who fancies himself as the ‘disco strangler’ (the WHAT?), and then fades out after a couple of minutes because they’ve presumably lost interest. On the other hand, ‘King Of Hollywood’ stretches out for over six minutes, the album’s longest track. Lyrically it’s interesting, in a way – a satirical tale of vanity and corruption in the movie industry, as you might have guessed. But it’s a dirge, the guitar solos sound laboured, and it drags. Thank goodness for ‘Heartache Tonight’, the album’s first single and best-known cut. A No. 40 hit in the UK and No. 1 stateside, this does have more tune, a good hook, a killer touch of slide guitar, and another rather smart lyric (“somebody’s gonna hurt someone, before the night is through”). Have you ever been to one of those all-night parties where one of your friends has a tiff with his/her other half, and someone ends up quietly sobbing in the bathroom? Not the happiest of songs for a subject, but if millionaire rock stars can relate to that kind of situation as readily as us more humble folks, why not? At any rate, it’s the album’s saving grace. Ah well, back to the dross after that. ‘Teenage Jail’ finds Joe back on his voice box to good effect (you may recall his 1973 solo classic, ‘Rocky Mountain Way’), bu
      t the song is just so leaden and never gets out of first gear. The next number, ‘Teenage Jail’, is even more dull, if that’s possible. I’ve known some people try to make out a case for these two numbers being the missing link between Neil Young and 90s grunge rock (from Nirvana to Pearl Jam), and I won’t argue with that – it to these ears it doesn’t make them sound any better. Unless any of you also have this album and would like to argue the case for the defence. Alternatively, had the Eagles been listening to the first Public Image Ltd album and decided that being defiantly anti-commercial was cool? Maybe, but I tend to skip these two. Not before time, they finally hit their stride with ‘Greeks Don’t Want No Freaks’. I’ve given up trying to work out what the lyric is about. Did they have a row with the Greek owners of a nightclub who threw them out for having long hair, and if so, does it matter? This is rock’n’roll, with a no-nonsense opening line – “There was blood all over the dancefloor, and the band was playin’ rhythm’n’blues”. They even whip up a raucous party atmosphere, and this song could have been their ‘Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting’, if only it hadn’t petered out too soon. Verse, chorus, verse, chorus, and you’re waiting for the guitar or organ to deliver a really outasight break, then they start messing around with a two-chord chant, and it just fades out. How could they? That just leaves ‘The Ballad Of The Sad Café’. It’s not bad, one of those bittersweet songs of love and regret. Similar in mood to the standout ballads on their two previous albums, ‘Take It To The Limit’ and ‘The Last Resort’, but not as strong, and the saxophone solo makes it sound a touch too cabaret-style for my liking. This album was recorded in ses
      sions stretching over two years or so. The original plan was for them to release a double, so if these tracks were the pick of the bunch, goodness knows what the rejects sounded like. If you’re an Eagles fan and have all the previous albums, buy this (preferably in a ‘special reduction’ or clearout price at a store near you), be prepared to program the duff stuff out after hearing it once, and console yourself with the fact that your favourite acts have their off days, just as authors turn out the odd below-par book. But if you’re new to them, give this a miss and start with one of the 'Very Best Of' sets instead. Otherwise you’ll find it hard to believe, on the evidence of this, that they were one of the seminal acts of the 70s.

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    • Product Details

      Disc #1 Tracklisting
      1 Long Run
      2 I Can't Tell You Why
      3 In The City
      4 Disco Strangler
      5 King Of Hollywood
      6 Heartache Tonight
      7 Those Shoes
      8 Teenage Jail
      9 Greeks Don't Want No Freaks
      10 Sad Cafe