Eagles: Hotel California (1976)
Yes, the Eagles organization is full of intolerable human beings, but remember, the Grateful Dead are even worse, and why should Steely Dan’s pristine soft rock get a free pass just because Fagen and Becker were jazz-loving lechers, while Henley and Frey were reformed country rock hedonists?
And to paraphrase Bard William, I didn’t come here to praise the Eagles, but I’ve no reason to bury them, either, because, any way you slice it, Hotel California remains an epochal event in classic rock.
Now, I can certainly sympathize with generalized fatigue over the title track, because I too will more often change the radio dial than listen to it for the millionth time; yet its unsettling parable about America’s innocence lost still appeals to my fascination with all things occult.
I get similarly impatient with the Yacht Rock syrup of “Wasted Time” and “The Last Resort,” but there’s a beguiling, south-of-the-border minor key thing going on in Glenn Frey’s vocal melody for “New Kid in Town,” on which Randy Meisner plays the guitarrón mexicano.
And I don’t know how anyone who loves rock guitar can bitch about Joe Walsh’s fretboard contortions on “Life in the Fast Lane” or his sweet slide work on “Victim of Love” – and this goes for Don ‘Fingers’ Felder’s tour de force on the title track, too.
Long story short: though I’ll probably always harbor a natural antipathy towards the Eagles, I’m keeping the damn record!
p.s. – Much of Hotel California was recorded at Miami’s Criteria studios, where the Eagles frequently had to stop work because Black Sabbath were in the adjacent room, making an infernal racket while they captured Technical Ecstasy.
More Eagles: One of these Nights.