Saturday, November 17, 2007

Eagles-Long Road Out of Eden Reviewed

I am a big Eagles fan and have been ever since I discovered the band when I was in high school back in the '80s. At one point or another, I think that I have owned all the classic Eagle albums on either cassette or CD. I even had some in both formats.

I was in college when the long awaited Eagles reunion tour happened in the '90s. I managed to get out to see the band live on two occasions. Both shows were great crowd pleasers.

I was pretty excited when word of the new release, "Long Road Out of Eden," was announced. With the release so close to my birthday, I even had a good excuse to drop a hint for my wife to pick it up.

Having said all that, it really pains me to say that the one word that comes to mind when I listen to "Long Road Out of Eden" is "depressing."

The Eagles' most popular songs were an upbeat fusion of rock and country such as "Take It Easy," "Already Gone," and "Lyin' Eyes." They also mastered ballads and slower songs. "Take It To the Limit," although slow in tempo, was a powerhouse. "Desperado" and "Hotel California" were probably the best known Eagles songs.

I'm sorry to say that there is very little of the old Eagles on the new album. The album moves about as fast as a funeral and is just as cheerful. Close to half of the tracks beat you over the head with a leftist, anti-Bush, anti-war message.

I've always been of the opinion that music and politics don't mix well. Movies and comedy lend themselves to political messages much more than music. "Schindler's List," for example, vividly portrayed anti-Nazi themes by showing a tiny fraction of the brutality of the Nazis to a widespread audience. Various politicians are easy fodder for comedians. With music, however, I don't want to be talked down to. I want to sit back and listen, lose myself in the beat, maybe dance a little.

In the United States today, we are constantly bombarded with political messages, particularly leftist ones. We hear them on the news. We see them in the movies and on television. You can't hear a comedian on Comedy Central or HBO without being forced to listen to repeated Bush jokes. The left is finding out that there is oversaturation of the message with the poor results of Robert Redford's new movie, "Lions for Lambs." I think that "Long Road Out of Eden" may suffer a similar fate, once word gets out.

After the break up of the Eagles, Don Henley and Glenn Frey, the two most prominent Eagles had successful solo careers. Henley's work delved into politics and got slower and slower, while Frey's remained more upbeat. Henley did score a few hits, notably "Dirty Laundry" and "Boys of Summer." Frey tackled politics in a more upbeat manner with his hit "Smuggler's Blues." If you like Henley's solo work, you will like the new Eagles, otherwise you will be disappointed.

The album is not a total write-off, however. "How Long" is easily the best track. It is a fast paced, country style song. Instead of politics, it deals with a man thinking about his lover as he runs from prison. This is like the best of classic Eagles and a sure hit. Actually, this isn't really new Eagles, reportedly they used to do this song live in the old days.

Another decent song is "Somebody." This is slightly slower than "How Long," but still fast paced. It deals with the guilt that one feels when they've done something wrong and feel that someone knows. This may have been intended as political, but it isn't overtly so.

The remainder of the songs are slow and forgettable. While they are okay, they really aren't what I would expect from the band that gave us "New Kid in Town" and "Heartache Tonight." Even the effort by Joe Walsh, "Last Good Time in Town," feels more like a hangover.

There are an assortment of love gone bad songs. The best of these is Don Henley's best song on the album, "Too Busy Being Fabulous." It has a good beat and deals a wandering lover, something most people can identify with on some level.

Too much of the remainder is diatribes against Bush ("and when El Jefe talks about our freedom, here is what he really means, business as usual, how dirty we play"), patriotic Americans ("Good old boys down at the bar, peanuts and politics, they think they know it all, they don't know much about nothing"), and the American lifestyle ("music blasting from an SUV, on a bright and sunny day... having lunch at the petroleum club, smoking fine cigars and swapping lies"). If a poltical song is to be successful, it had better have plenty of saving graces, like "Dirty Laundry," which employed humor, a catchy tune, and a good beat. Unfortunately, these songs lack both sublety and entertainment value.

I would recommend that Eagles fans, unless you happen to be die hard leftists, spend their money on the "Very Best of the Eagles," which is also on sale at Walmart. This is another two CD set of classic hits that includes the popular Eagles hits as well as some lesser known, but great, songs such as "Midnight Flyer," "In The City," and "Please Come Home for Christmas." Hopefully, if they make another album, the Eagles, as well other entertainers, will get back to the basics, in other words, songs that people like.

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