Fly­ing over same old ground

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music -

FIRST some sta­tis­tics. The Ea­gles are the most com­mer­cially suc­cess­ful Amer­i­can band in his­tory. Two of their al­bums are in the all- time top 10 list of big­gest sell­ers. It’s 31 years since one of those al­bums, Ho­tel Cal­i­for­nia , was re­leased, 27 years since they broke up and 13 since they re- formed to take the Ea­gles’ live phe­nom­e­non around the world. We can ex­pect an­other visit from them here within the next year or so, by which time Long Road Out of Eden will have crossed multi- plat­inum bound­aries. Tight har­monies, ex­pert mu­si­cian­ship and hook­laden, ra­dio- friendly soft rock songs were the Ea­gles’ bread, but­ter and caviar and the 20 tracks on this dou­ble CD play to those strengths, or at least traits. The songs were writ­ten in a variety of com­bi­na­tions, with solo con­tri­bu­tions from Glenn Frey, Paul Car­rack ( I Don’t Want to Hear Any­more ) and J. D. Souther, whose vi­brant coun­try- rocker How Long dates back to early Ea­gles live per­for­mances. The Frey- Don Hen­ley part­ner­ship of­fers the worst of the set. Busy Be­ing Fab­u­lous and What Do I Do with My Heart are un­bear­ably schmaltzy and pre­dictable, even with the for­mer’s irony. Their Frail Grasp of the Big Pic­ture is en­gag­ingly funky as it takes a swipe at the US’s present po­lit­i­cal and cul­tural malaise. As with ev­ery­thing else here, how­ever, it has any spark of orig­i­nal­ity knocked out of it by inch- per­fect pro­duc­tion tech­niques. The 10- minute ti­tle track is meant to be a grand state­ment, but is un­der­mined by Hen­ley’s clunky, overblown lyric (‘‘ mu­sic blast­ing from an SUV/ On a bright and sunny day’’) and the Last Post- style in­stru­men­tal I Dreamed There Was No War that fol­lows. Over­all, Long Road Out of Eden is a dull 90 min­utes. And that from some­one who has watched ev­ery Syd­ney FC game this sea­son.

Iain Shed­den

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