Only 16 albums remain in our special summer feature looking at The Top 100 Albums of the Rock Era*.
The Eagles already placed one release--The Long Run in The Top 100 Albums* at #39. Hotel California is the highest-ranking of their studio albums. Bernie Leadon, a founding member of the group, had decided to leave prior to this album. However, the band scored one of the all-time coups in the Rock Era when Joe Walsh replaced him. Walsh had long been regarded as one of the top guitarists in rock and he gave them four things: 1) Increased musicianship to the point where the Eagles could hold their own in that department, 2) Songwriting and vocal ability, a must in a group that provided some of the top harmonies of the Rock Era, 3) An "edge" to their songs, as the group clearly made the transition from country rock to rock with this album and 4) A funny and great stage presence, someone to "loosen up" the band.
Three huge hits--"Hotel California", "New Kid in Town" and "Life in the Fast Lane" propelled the album to new heights. The title track features one of the great guitar parts of the Rock Era, performed by both Walsh and Don Felder. Through the years, its popularity has continued to grow and that increased attention has led to greater sales of the album. "Hotel California" ranks as one of The Top 10 Songs of the Rock Era*. "New Kid in Town" also went #1 for the group.
Hotel California went #1 in the midst of the great chart run by Fleetwood Mac's Rumours; in fact the two battled week after week not only for supremacy on the album chart but for the coveted Grammy for Album of the Year. The Eagles remained at #1 for eight weeks and also logged 10 weeks at #2 during this period. The album was in the Top 10 for 27 weeks and on the chart as a best-seller for 107 weeks (over two years). Hotel California recently passed 16 million in sales and has an outstanding Track Rating* of 9.10.
So it has tremendous airplay, great chart statistics in the face of amazing competition, incredible sales and a great Track Rating*. As you can tell from the latter factor, the album has consistency. Hotel California was recorded during America's Bicentennial year (1976) and was designed to be a concept album. As Don Henley said, "We've been around 200 years and that's great, but we're going to have to change if we're going to continue to be around." So the Eagles used their native California as a microcosm of the United States (and the world, for that matter). Pleading for Americans to take care of their country and turn away from the unimportant material items and from decadence, its words ring just as true today as ever. In other words, the album isn't just popular because the songs sound great; it is popular because of its meaning and significance.
"The Last Resort", which ranks high among the all-time Unknown/Underrated Songs of the Rock Era*, is a song about the demise of society and the tendency of mankind to constantly "screw up paradise", as Glenn Frey said. "Wasted Time" is another of those Unknown/Underrated Songs* and is a fan favorite at Eagles' concerts. "Victim of Love" is another excellent track. Randy Meisner, who would perform his final work with the Eagles on this album, did a nice job on "Try and Love Again". But there are no bad tracks.
"Hotel California" won the Grammy for Record of the year and "New Kid in Town" was honored for Best Arrangement For Voices. The title track was also nominated for Song of the Year, the album was nominated for Album of the Year and Bill Szymczyk was nominated for Producer of the Year.
The cover of the album is the Beverly Hills Hotel; the back cover was photographed at the Lido in Hollywood.
1. "Hotel California" (Don Felder, Don Henley, Glenn Frey) --6:30
2. "New Kid in Town" (J.D. Souther, Henley, Frey) --5:03
3. "Life in the Fast Lane" (Joe Walsh, Henley, Frey) --4:46
4. "Wasted Time" (Henley, Frey) --4:55
1. "Wasted Time (Reprise)"--instrumental (Henley, Frey, Jim Ed Norman) --1:22
2. "Victim of Love" (Felder, Souther, Henley, Frey) --4:11
3. "Pretty Maids All in a Row" (Walsh, Joe Vitale) --3:58
4. "Try and Love Again" (Meisner) --5:10
5. "The Last Resort" (Henley, Frey) --7:28
This was really the classic Eagles lineup. Don Felder on guitars, Glenn Frey on guitars, keyboards and piano, Don Henley on drums, keyboards and percussion, Randy Meisner on bass, guitar and guitarron and Joe Walsh on guitar, slide guitar, keyboards and organ. And all members sang very well.
The only outside assistance the group accepted was from Andrew McNutt, who played keytar, xylophone and theremin and from Jim Ed Norman who arranged the string parts. Norman conducted the orchestra and Sid Sharp was the concert master.
The Eagles recorded the great album from March to October of 1976 at Criteria Studios in Miami, Florida and at the famous Record Plant in Los Angeles. Once again, Bill Szymczyk was called on to produce the album for the Eagles. Szymczyk, Allan Blazek, Bruce Hensal and Ed Mashal were the engineers, Szymczyk mixed it. Henley assisted John Kosh in art direction for the album; Kosh designed the album and provided art work and David Alexander was the photographer. Ted Zakinsky mastered Hotel California. The album was released December 8, 1976 on Asylum Records.
Hotel California charges ahead as the #16 Album of the Rock Era*, from the Eagles.