I have an irrational hatred for the Eagles that was developed long before I could articulate why I hated them. Now the reasons are that I dislike the whole aesthetic of the Mellow Mafia (and their sheer dominance of American popular music in the 1970s) and I don’t like what they did to country rock. It’s not just them: I usually don’t like the band that takes the underground genre and commercializes it, whether we’re talking about country or prog. But by stripping the Burrito’s sound of all grit – and the Burritos of their guitarist! – the Eagles figured how to sell country rock to the masses, but I think they lost something in the process.
Ahem. This album…
The Eagles write catching songs. There’s no denying that. And they wouldn’t be so damn successful if they didn’t. I know the title track, “Lyin’ Eyes” and “Take It To the Limit” really well from classic rock radio and from whichever Greatest Hits record they’re on. (I feel like I don’t know “After the Thrill Is Gone” as well for some reason.) I know these songs so well I can’t articulate any more what I don’t like about them, beyond the faux disco of the title track. As usual, the big songs are not as compelling as the deep cuts. Though I am happy to hear “Journey of the Sorcerer”, having recently listened to The Hitchhiker’s Guidef or the first time, and not having any idea it was this band. (How unlike them.)
My problem with any Mellow Mafia album mostly begins and ends with the aesthetic. Everything is too perfect. And this is a band that wants you to believe it’s playing country music. Country, the genre known for the pristine polish of its performances and recordings. The same goes with their rock elements which feel like they belong on a Boston record. Slick country rock and arena rock combined are, um, not my thing, to put it mildly. Would I like this album more if the same songs were preformed by the Burritos or some band that knows what grit is? Undoubtedly.
But how critical can I really be? They know what they’re doing. And their particular fusion of overly slick country rock with arena rock is really their thing, they own it. They are the masters of it. For better or worth.
Good for you, Bernie Leadon. I would have quit after this thing too. (Well, I wouldn’t have ever been in the band because I have no musical talent and because there’s no way I’d ever have been put up with the earlier sound if I had. But that’s another story.)