Top 100 Album Review: #37 – Hotel California, The Eagles (1976)

A Great, Soft Rock Album.

A perfect and compact album with multiple hits.

Hotel-California-Single-The-Eagles-Album-Cover-Beverly-Hills-Hotel.jpg

Rolling Stone’s Ranking: #37/100
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550

I only require two things from my top 100 albums: 1) have at least one killer hit 2) make over half the album enjoyable. Hotel California accomplishes both with it’s titular-named single and a buoy of other songs. This album might only be nine tracks, but I appreciated a respite from the filler-filled albums that have been clogging my cue lately.

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[OVERVIEW]

The Eagles are one of the most popular bands of all-time and especially a leader of the 70s. The original line up was Don Henley, Glenn Fray, Randy Mesiner, and Bernie Leadon. Together, they had hits such as Take it Easy, Lyin’ Eyes, One of These Nights, and more. Those singles were put on a Greatest Hits album which is currently the best selling album in the U.S. of all-time, right in front of Thriller by MJ.

For Hotel California, Bernie Leadon was traded for Joe Walsh whose guitar work can be appreciated in the opening lines of Life in the Fast Lane. Together, this new team collaborated on this “concept album” (the most overused musical term of all-time) that was a new take on old values:

“They’re the same themes that run through all of our work: loss of innocence, the cost of naiveté, the perils of fame, of excess; exploration of the dark underbelly of the American dream, idealism realized and idealism thwarted, illusion versus reality, the difficulties of balancing loving relationships and work, trying to square the conflicting relationship between business and art; the corruption in politics, the fading away of the Sixties dream of “peace, love and understanding.” – Don Henley

[TRACKLISTING]

  1. Hotel California
  2. New Kid In Town
  3. Life In The Fast Lane
  4. Wasted Time
  5. Wasted Time (Reprise)
  6. Victim Of Love
  7. Pretty Maids All In A Row
  8. Try And Love Again
  9. The Last Resort

Editor’s Note: The Eagles do not let their content get uploaded to Youtube and other venues, so it might be hard to share examples from their album. 

[BEST TRACK: Hotel California]

Don Henley wanted this song to unfold like a movie with a heavy narration that really told a story. Mission complete.

So I called up the Captain,
‘Please bring me my wine’
He said, ‘we haven’t had that spirit here since nineteen sixty-nine’
And still those voices are calling from far away,
Wake you up in the middle of the night
Just to hear them say”

[BEST TRACK RUNNER-UP: Life in the Fast Lane]

What this live version fails to capture is the energy of the actual song. The Eagles were a border line country band with Bernie Leadon, but the addition of Joe Walsh made them turn towards a Rock n’ Roll direction.

He was a hard-headed man he was brutally handsome
And she was terminally pretty
She held him up and he held her for ransom
In the heart of the cold, cold city

[BEST PIECE OF FLAIR: Wasted Time (Reprise)]

Here is a youth orchestra performing an exquisite touch from the album. Wasted Time is its own single (and a very good one and that), but it’s followed by this poignant 60 second version where it takes all of the melodic themes and blasts them from a full orchestra with very beautiful results.

[CONCLUSION]

This album just misses a five star rating because outside of Hotel California, it doesn’t have any other “must listen to” songs. The rest of the material is still very good leaving me well satisfied with this compact album.

Other People’s Takes:

  • The Ultimate Music Library: “This release in that year is a gold standard classic. Ironically, it came to represent virtually everything punk loathed: perfect harmonies; structured guitar parts and glossy production.”
  • Jotakapf:So how does it all hold up? Well, as a concept album, it falls flop on his belly. This, to me, is not a concept album in any way.”
  • Audiophile Paradise: No arguments or pros/cons here, no need for special mentions, just a flat out 10/10 for this epic masterpiece. Rock on, Eagles!”

Author: Casual But Smart

I review the top 100 books, movies, albums, and games of all time.

One thought on “Top 100 Album Review: #37 – Hotel California, The Eagles (1976)”

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