2016, Music

Hotel California (1976) by Eagles

Who is this record for? Clearly, it’s for a lot of people, as it sold somewhere between 20 and 30 million copies. But listening to it, I don’t know who it’s for. The rock tracks feel like they appeal to one group of people, and the sappy, over-produced soft rock ballads to another group. It’s amazing that this record, of all records, has become so successful.

The country roots of the Eagles are even further diluted here, with even the most country of the ballads being smothered in overdubs and ’70s studio perfection. They were always a poppier, arena-ready version of the Burrito Brothers, but here they’re so far afield from that they are barely recognizable as country.

The rock tracks also feel multiple times removed from the genuine article. On the title track, I get a serious Dark Side of the Moon vibe in that vaguely reaggae-ish beat (at least until the more Latin chorus). But the guitar jam that ends the song – as well as the other unison lead playing on the record, just sounds like wannabe Allmans. Why not listen to the real thing? They were still around at the time, even if they weren’t quite as good as they used to be.

A pale imitation of country rock and a pale imitation of rock, with so much “soft rock” it should make me sick. But I don’t hate it, I’m sorry to say. And I wanted to. I don’t hate it for two reasons:

Firstly, it’s so damn professional and accomplished that it’s hard to say that these guys. I mean, they do suck, but they’re very good musicians making really middle-of-the-road, safe, boring music.

Second, I find Henley (and/or Frey) to be above average lyricists, even if those lyrics maybe reek a little bit of first year undergrad. I’d rather listen to soft rock with decent lyrics than soft-rock with terrible lyrics.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.