Sunday, April 28, 2013

Eagles documentary celebrates a very hard-nosed operation

The History of The Eagles doesn't packs any dramatic revelations. In fact it steers clear of any mention of their personal lives apart from their intervention in Joe Walsh's drinking and drugging.

On the other hand it doesn't hold back when it comes to slipping the knife into people who've spent some time inside the tent.

Producer Glyn Johns, who oversaw their first three records, is derided for thinking they were all about close harmonies and believing they should forget trying to prove themselves as a rock band. I've heard James Dean. I think Johns had a point.

Johns remembers being called in to work with them and being wholly unimpressed until he heard them amusing themselves with a campfire singalong. As so often it's not what you recognise in yourselves. It's what other people recognise in you.

David Geffen, who signed them to his record label and made them huge stars, is castigated for making more money than they did.

Erstwhile guitarist Don Felder is tried, sentenced and executed for getting in Glenn Frey's light, being a bit of pain and for having the temerity to have written the lick that gave birth to Hotel California.

It's clear that Frey and Henley, the two singers, run the show, along with their manager Irving Azoff. Walsh and Timothy B. Schmidt are just delighted to be along for the ride. I was recently wondering whether a band could have two leaders.  The Eagles seem to have managed it. It probably helps if you've got compliant staff.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting, thank you.

    Glynn Johns was right - no doubt the close harmony singing of Glen and Don was fantastic - just listen to them on Randy Newman's "Rider in the rain" (wikipedia says JD Souther is in there too). It is lovely and is the best thing about the song - the understated harmony humming on the outro alone is gorgeous.

    The other really good thing I like is the song "Flight of the sorceror" - as used for the theme music in the original BBC radio Hitchhikers guide to the Galaxy.

    Also in this series: great work of Robert Fripp - production and playing and frippertronics on the peerless and lovely debut record by The Roches.