Are the Eagles worth the bucks? 

The Dull Lane

click to enlarge ballard.jpg

"Take it Easy" from the album The Long Run

I don't hate the Eagles; I just can't stand hearing their songs over and over and over. But that's what I get for tuning in to commercial rock radio as much as possible — in the car and at home.

The last time I really enjoyed hearing a song by the Eagles was last May at the then-open Hard Rock Park in Myrtle Beach. I was with a City Paper contingent, testing out the kid-friendly, medium-sized roller coaster Eagles: Life in the Fast Lane. The familiar 4/4 beat and the cornball guitar riffs fit the experience. While driving around town and trying to find a decent rock 'n' roll tune on FM radio dial, landing on "Life in the Fast Lane" (and just about every other Eagles hit) triggers a quick flick of the "search" button. It's just not so riveting for me.

But the well-worn catalog of Eagles songs must still be exciting for most casual rock fans. The veteran classic rock band is set to perform at the North Charleston Coliseum this Friday, and it will surely come close to selling out — even with the high ticket prices of $77 and $112 for cheap seats and $165 and $191 for front-and-center.

Billed as the Long Road Out of Eden Tour (in reference to the band's latest studio album, their first album of original music since 1979) the current version of the band features four of the main dudes. Guitarist/singer Glenn Frey and drummer/singer Don Henley are two original members of the band. Guitarist/singer Joe Walsh and bassist/singer Timothy B. Schmit are two longtime members of the band.

click to enlarge The four remaining Eagles: Frey, Walsh, Schmit & Henley
  • The four remaining Eagles: Frey, Walsh, Schmit & Henley

These guys deserve certain praise for their successful, California-styled repertoire. In their heyday, they were one of the biggest-selling rock groups. In their 37-year "long run," they've sold more than 120 million albums worldwide, earned five number one U.S. singles, and four Grammy Awards. Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975 is the best-selling album of all time. They became notorious for their arguments, disillusion, and infighting over musical and financial matters. They reunited under the "Hell Freezes Over" banner in 1994. And they were inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. It's a terrific story.

Unfortunately, the thrill is gone for this listener. From the "Take It Easy" stuff on the 1973 self-titled debut album through the slightly harder-edged rock and ballads of 1979's The Long Run, the Eagles sound has been wrung out over the airwaves, played into the ground, stomped on, revived, and stomped on again. Local station Q-104.5 is the guiltiest in town, but its sister Clear Channel station Y-102.5 and the more independent station The Bridge at 105.5 are culprits as well.

I can still stomach a few snippets of Eagles music on the radio. On "Seven Bridges Road," the bass part in the vocal harmonies is killer ...and the yelps and howls from the audience between each line are priceless. The snare drum sound and the snare/kick pattern in the intro of "Heartache Tonight" is simple and rockin, and Joe Walsh's nasty slide guitar solos and riffs are excellent.

However, there are five key song moments among the barrage of many Eagles song moments on the airwaves that absolutely drive me nuts (and will keep me away from the Coliseum on Friday). Here's one: despite the great pedal steel guitar work, "How Long" (from Long Road Out of Eden) is stiff, stiff, stiff. Two: the syrupy strings on the 6/8 anthem "Take It to the Limit" are much too effective at inducing drowsiness. Thirdly, "Tequila Sunrise" is almost interchangeable with "Peaceful Easy Feeling" — it's the band's "Margaritaville." Number four: the lengthy ending of the plodding and slow-moving "I Can't Tell You Why" (from The Long Run) is excruciating. Lastly, hearing Frey sing, "I get this feeling I may know yous... ad a lover and a friend" in the first line of "Peaceful, Easy Feeling" (the third single from the band's debut album) makes me want to run outside and eat styrofoam ... on a roller coaster.


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