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The Eagles, "Long Road Out Of Eden"


Heard It On The XM
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It's no easy feat for a band to come back from decades on hiatus and sound just as good as they did in their heyday. Just ask Donald Fagen and Walter Becker about that.

But this past week, Steely Dan became mere pikers, having waited "only" 20 years (1980-2000) between studio albums. That mark has now been shattered by four of their '70s contemporaries, Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit. After a 28-year absence (1979-2007) interrupted only by a few studio tracks on 1994's mostly live Hell Freezes Over, The Eagles finally have a CD of all-new material on store shelves.

Actually, make that two CDs. Long Road Out Of Eden is a double set, a rarity for studio albums these days. The first CD is mostly country-oriented soft rock, reminiscent of the band's early years, while the second CD has a harder, more straightforward sound and sociopolitically laden lyrics, a la Hotel California or The Long Run, or much of Henley's solo material.

The album begins on an unexpected note with the melancholy a capella "No More Walks In The Wood", quite a contrast with the song it leads into, the J.D. Souther rocker "How Long" which is the album's first single. Much of the rest of Disc 1 is devoted to low-key countrified tunes about lost love, growing older and finding hope in times of despair. I found Henley and Steuart Smith's "Waiting In The Weeds" to be especially poignant. Two other high-energy tracks, Walsh's "Guilty Of The Crime" and Henley and Frey's "Fast Company" keep the first half of the set from being too much of a downer.

Disc 2 kicks off with the epic title track, a 10-minute critique of both the war in Iraq and the decline of the American way in the face of materialism and the demands of empire. The latter has been a recurring theme throughout Henley's songwriting career in particular, and turns up twice more on the second disc of this set, in "Frail Grasp On The Big Picture" and "Business As Usual" (the latter track also features a pointed jab at President Bush). Henley's sharp lyricism, polished over several solo albums recorded during the band's dormancy, abounds on both discs but really comes through on these three tracks.

"I Dreamed There Was No War", its title notwithstanding, can't really be called an antiwar protest song because, well, it's an instrumental piece, and a very short one at that, clocking in at a mere 1:37. With no lyrics and an easygoing melody, the listener is simply left to take from Frey's composition what he or she will. Other highlights of Disc 2 include "Last Good Time In Town", which can only be described as vintage Joe Walsh, and the closing track "It's Your World Now", a farewell song that is kept from becoming too maudlin by the addition of a mariachi horn section (presumably Walsh's idea; when I heard it the first thing that came to mind was "Life Of Illusion"), but nonetheless would represent a fine sendoff for this legendary group, if indeed this is to be their final studio effort together.

Fans of The Eagles, and of old-school classic rock in general, have literally waited a generation for this album to arrive. Long Road Out Of Eden won't blow them or anyone else away, but it should definitely leave them satisfied.

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I agree, Helena. XM writes an excellent review, although I am somewhat biased when it comes to The Eagles.

The double album is excellent and there are very few clunkers. XM is dead on when he says that the album's songs run the gamut from the soft rock/country songs of the band's early years to the edgy, topical rockers of the band's later years and much of Henley's solo work.

I particularly like the title track and Henley's mournful "Waiting In The Weeds".

Any fans of The Eagles will love this album. IMO, it was worth the wait. I hope this is not the band's last studio effort.

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