Judge Ryan Keefer wonders what would have happened if the Eagles' alternate version of "Hotel California" was released. "Hotel Tuscaloosa" doesn't have as much of a ring to it.
"We play the hits—we have no qualms about playing the hits."—Don Henley
If the opening line of this review does not provide an ample idea of what you're in for when firing up "The Eagles—Farewell 1 Tour," then you're just not paying attention. What's that, you didn't know the Eagles were still touring? Well, neither did I, but that didn't stop me from checking out how they're holding up.
In a nutshell, the Eagles can be defined as a California band with some strong elements of Southern rock and a little bit of country-western in the mix too. In the early and mid '70s, while acts like Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones were either underperforming or just generally not appreciated, the Eagles strolled onto the American musical scene with a respectable self-titled album, followed by their follow-up, 1973's "Desperado." After two more albums, a greatest hits album was released, starting what would almost define the group.
A quick tangent: of the Eagles' twelve albums, half have been compilation/greatest hits albums, or live releases. It's not a huge complaint; sometimes mega-bands can be lousy in the studio, and there's nothing wrong with that, but are things really so bad that every other album must be full of recycled material? Come on Glenn, Don, Joe and Tim, go to a studio for 6 months, and see what you're made of!
I'm sorry I had to tie a long string onto that kite, but it had to be said. After 1975's Greatest Hits album, the band released their defining album, "Hotel California." Even setting the awesome title track aside, the album is quality work from top to bottom. "Life in the Fast Lane," "Victim of Love," "New Kid in Town," and "Pretty Maids All in a Row" are all good songs, and the album was among the best albums released in the '70s. But by this point, the cracks in the band's visage were starting to show. Guitarist/vocalist Glenn Frey and drummer/vocalist Don Henley were replacing supporting musicians. By 1979's "The Long Run" (jokingly called "The Long One" due to the extensive time spent in the studio), guitarist Joe Walsh replaced Bernie Leadon, and bassist Timothy Schmit replaced Randy Meisner. The album was poorly received and the band split soon after, with some very raw feelings left behind among most of the group members. However, by the early to mid '90s, time (and a huge chunk of cash) helped to mend fences and open gates. The group reunited for a tour and album in 1994 (aptly titled "Hell Freezes Over") and have been periodically touring since, releasing a couple more albums of "selected works."
The two-disc set is focused on the performance, and provides the viewer with not only hits from the Eagles but also solo hits from some of the individual members. The playlist is:
• "The Long Run"
Recorded in Melbourne Australia, the picture is razor sharp and looks excellent for a performance film, but the audio seems to be lacking a little bit. From the start, it almost sounds like the music was not recorded in the arena, just pulled from sound boards with the crowd noise mixed down (or out), except for in between songs. It's a disappointment not to get the full effect of the concert. If you take this and compare it to other films that have crowd recordings, such as Criterion's excellent The Complete Monterey Pop Festival or Led Zeppelin's two-disc set of performance footage, the difference can clearly be heard. Because of this, the emotion just seems to slowly drain away from this concert.
In terms of performance, the group has a good time on stage, joking with each other and enjoying the ride. Having said that, there's still a small level of disconnect onstage periodically that Walsh seems to break when he gets the chance. Seeing as how Walsh is viewed as a bit of a clown, his perception may be right, but he's also the only breath of life onstage at times. Oh well, people still go to the reunion shows, so keep charging $75 apiece and enjoy the ride I say!
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