Eagles - The Long Run
nearly twenty years ago but sounding only a little bit dated,
The Long Run is the sound of one of classic rock's
most misunderstood bands at both its creative peak and its
demise. On their previous release, 1976's Hotel California,
the Eagles had made a clean break from the feel-good California
mellow country rock that characterized much of their early
work, but often tried a little too hard. Though the album
is excellent for the most part, it is easier to view as a
collection of individual songs than as a cohesive statement.
This did no harm to its popularity, of course, and the title
track is still what most people think of when the Eagles are
mentioned. But the album that followed is ultimately a more
complex, deeper, and better record.
Long Run didn't just change the Eagles' modus operandi,
it was a concept album about that change itself. The title
song, which opens the album, is musically traditional Eagle
faire, Don Henley's gutsy vocals over a southern-rock style
guitar and a drive-you-into-the-ground 4/4 rhythm, but listen
to the words and you know the band has grown up. "I used to
hurry a lot / I used to worry a lot / I used to stay out 'till
the break of day" starts the first verse, and we later hear
"but I just couldn't carry on that way." As a confessional
introduction to an album that shapes up as a stark portrayal
of southwestern sunset strip culture in the late '70s, it's
progresses, and each track contributes its own little piece
to the puzzle. "In the City" yearns for a more peaceful existence
"beyond the neon lights." "Those Shoes" and "Teenage Jail"
dissect social pressures down to the core. "Heartache Tonight"
de-romanticizes the let's-be-mellow-and-fall-in-love image
the Eagles and others had popularized only five years earlier.
Perhaps the most incisive is the one-two punch of "The Disco
Strangler" and "King of Hollywood" at the end of side one.
The former tells the tale of a swaggering, gold-chain-wearing
club-goer (could they have forseen the Roxbury guys?), who
will "sweep you off your feet if you let him." The latter
shifts to the promising young movie actress learning what
she has to do to get a part - "Are you willing to sacrifice
/ are you willing to be real nice / all your talent and my
good taste / I'd hate to see it go to waste." We've seen several
films released recently about this sort of scene in this era,
but the Eagles were writing about it back then - how cool
the most beautiful thing about this record, other than the
crystal clear production that distinguishes it from much '70s
rock that sounds like it was recorded under water, is that
after all the corruption, greed and desolation, there is some
hope at the end. In the gorgeous ballad "I Can't Tell You
Why," unsung Eagle Timothy B. Schmitt sings "every time I
try to walk away / something makes me turn around and stay."
In the title song, Henley is confident that "when it all comes
down I know we'll make it through." Sadly, the Eagles didn't
make it through another year, but in "Sad Café," which turned
out to be the last song on their last album, the Eagles look
back on the past, recall it with emotions that are largely
mixed - "some of our dreams came true / some of them passed
away" - but finish up with an invitation to join them inside
the very same café that they seem to have outgrown.
of guitar-based rock who are looking for more classics in
their collection should own this album. The two "Greatest
Hits" records don't do justice to the Eagles half as well.
4.0 out of