The Long Run


Asylum Records, 1979

REVIEW BY: Jeff Clutterbuck


Tension can be an incredibly powerful driving force when it comes to creating great art. When it comes to music, tension becomes legend. The breakup of The Beatles has inspired volumes to be written. Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours would not have become one of the greatest albums of all time had it not been for the various relationships within the group that had splintered and led to fallings out. Brian Wilson may have been able to complete SMiLE if The Beach Boys hadn’t treated him like a lunatic and doubted his artistic vision. The list truly does go on and on throughout the annals of rock.

The Eagles exemplified what can happen when that tension becomes too much for a group to handle. Instead of spurring on each other to bigger and better things, they splintered and eventually called it quits at the dawn of the ‘80s. There is no Rumours for The Eagles because they just couldn’t handle each other’s company. That is not to say they didn’t make great music along the way, but where others have taken those arguments and disputes and hard feelings and somehow channeled into something amazing, the Eagles just were not up to the task.

The Long Run took years to record, mostly due to the fact the band just didn’t have good ideas left in them at the time (and arguably, ever since). What was originally intended to be a double album became a single album. Of the ten tracks that made the final cut, four could be removed without a problem. That leaves the listener with six songs of quality, which would be somewhat more justifiable for a six-month gap between albums, heck, even a year’s worth. But three years, for a band with this much talent? There’s exhibit A of what tension can do to a group dynamic.

Taking potshot at disco had gone out of fashion by 1979 (much like disco itself), but yet it’s quite clear The Eagles felt it worth their time to denigrate it. That subtle menace that they conveyed in a song like “Hotel California?” Completely gone in favor of entitling a song “The Disco Strangler.” Hard to miss that subtext behind that particular choice. Or what about “The Greek Don’t Want No Freaks?” The vibe that the Eagles desperately try to create is one of the boys just messin’ around and recording whatever followed; however, The Eagles never were particularly adept at letting their hair down so to speak, so that playfulness never takes flight (forgive the one bird-related pun). Oh yes, that track also clocks in at two minutes and nineteen seconds, again highlighting just how bereft of inspiration this group was at the time.

But those moments when everything comes together is where The Eagles show off those talents that drove their success. The most famous song to come from The Long Run, without question, is “Heartache Tonight.” That brilliant blend of voices justified it success tenfold, and it’s one of their best songs period. Yet it is the quieter moments where this album hits its high points. “King Of Hollywood” may have its sights set on an easy target (the Hollywood elite) but that menace of the Hotel California variety returns. The song doesn’t overreach, instead it plays things simple and as a result it’s a winner. “The Sad Cafe” closes in that mold, but instead of menace there is that regret of time gone past, and whether or not things can return to the way they were.

We are talking about a band that has one of the two best selling albums of all time, gets played on classic rock stations every ten minutes, and continues to sell out arenas all over the world. So why does it feel like The Eagles still left something at the door? The talent was there to be one of the best ever, but it just never happened. It’s disappointing that when it was all said and done, The Long Run was how they chose to leave the stage. By the time Long Road To Eden came along, it was far too late to have any meaningful impact.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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