Today I Will Listen To An Eagles Album

It's been de rigueur to hate the Eagles for as long as I can remember.  Certainly since the Dude righteously declared "I hate the fuckin' Eagles, man," back in The Big Lebowski, right up through The Good Place's depiction of the Medium Place -- the limbo of "eternal mediocrity" between heaven and hell -- as having a jukebox programmed to play nothing but live versions of Eagles songs.
When I was first discovering pop radio as a pre-teen back in the mid-70s, the Eagles were already a radio mainstay, songs like "One of These Nights" and "Hotel California" and "New Kid In Town" largely inescapable.  So by the time I became a middle school classic rock addict, trying to get my arms around every LP I could find, trying out an Eagles album was inevitable.  In late '79, as I was starting 8th grade, they released The Long Run, which would turn out to be their final (pre-reunion) album, and it immediately saturated the airwaves.  So I borrowed a copy from the library and...

Bleh. 

It wasn't so much that it was terrible.  It was just... uninteresting.  (Ok, some of it was terrible.)  And thus ended my flirtation with the Eagles.

But sitting here today, 40 years later, can I objectively assess this album, free of the pop culture baggage that haunts the band?  Let's cue it up:
  • "The Long Run": Ok, the title track is... fine.  It's not a bad song.  But it does perfectly encapsulate the band's inherent blandness; at no point do I feel compelled to tap my feet or sing along, it just kinda sits there.  Still, if this were more characteristic of the album, I don't know that the Dude's proclamation would really be warranted.
  • "I Can't Tell You Why": Damn this song is dull. Yes, it's pretty.  And I suppose there is some lingering affection because it was the song they'd pull out for the snowball slow-dance at every Bar Mitzvah I went to back in '79.  But unless you're a pair of 13-year-olds making out, there is no way to endure this seemingly endless slog.
  • "In The City": This is the one great song on the album, largely because it's not an Eagles song at all.  It's Joe Walsh, first recorded as a solo track and included in The Warriors, making it awesome in multiple ways.  The Eagles' version is a little more polished but largely left alone and thus it retains its greatness.  But Walsh should have saved it for a solo album rather than giving it to the band.
 
  • "The Disco Strangler": I don't know if this was the band's attempt at incorporating punk/new wave into their sound, but it's basically a guitar riff repeated a million times with Henley ranting over the top of it.  It's truly an agonizing listen.
  • "King of Hollywood": Makes "I Can't Tell You Why" feel like a killer rock song.  It may be possible to write a more boring song, but it's tough to imagine. I can't get through more than thirty seconds of this.
  • "Heartache Tonight": Side two of the vinyl LP kicks off with the counterpart to the title track.  For an upbeat song you might hear someone play on the jukebox at the local bar, it's fine.  Not something I'd ever choose to play, but it's... again, fine.
  • "Those Shoes": A weird, dark groove over a talk-box guitar.  Now, I'd had all the talk-box guitar I could possibly ever want back when Frampton Comes Alive dominated the radio, and would have been perfectly fine never hearing one again.  The riff is actually kinda cool -- hey, the Beastie Boys sampled it for "High Plains Drifter" -- so on that basis I can't say the song sucks.  But again, why does everything the Eagles play end up sounding so dull?  This could have been made more interesting (see, e.g., the Beastie Boys).
 
  • "Teenage Jail": What the fuck is this mess?
  • "The Greeks Don't Want No Freaks": This, along with "In The City," was the only song I liked when I was 13.  As a fraternity party song it's actually pretty fun. (I'd file it alongside the band's earlier "James Dean," another upbeat pop tune which may be banal but is much more tolerable than their more earnest stuff.) 
  • "The Sad Cafe": The album closes with another one that, like "I Can't Tell You Why" and "King of Hollywood," seems to last for hours without going anywhere.  About a minute into it and I'm flipping back to hear "Greeks" again, but it turns out that song's only fun about once every 40 years.
Ok.  I've done my penance.

Comments

  1. Humanfund here.

    Excellent premise for this review. Definitely one of most uncool bands around whilst growing up with postpunk and indie.

    Still, I'd take the title track (or Hotel California or One of These Nights) over Josie and the Pussycats or Katrina and the Waves!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha! I get your antipathy towards that Josie album, but Katrina? Kimberley Rew is a pop god, and I love that stuff (at least the early indie albums before they got all shiny and polished).

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