Eagles, Hotel California
Wasting no time on the heels of their "Greatest Hits"
For their fifth studio album, the Eagles replaced Bernie Leadon with Joe Walsh, the former James Gang leader — fitting, given that the Eagles had once envisioned themselves as the rock 'n' roll equivalent of the Dalton Gang.
Despite the presence of "Wasted Time," Don Henley's Tom Waits-style tearjerker, on the heels of their "Greatest Hits" the band was apparently wasting none. The album's first three songs — the faux-reggae lilt of the famous title track, Glenn Frey's undeniably catchy "New Kid in Town" (featuring Walsh, the rowdy guitar wrangler, incongruously playing electric piano fit for a Holiday Inn) and Walsh's funky "Life in the Fast Lane" (with Frey on clavinet) — reached No. 1, No. 1 and No. 11 respectively.
Walsh and Don Felder, shredding together on the wickedly unsubtle "Victim of Love," made it clear the Eagles were scarcely the country-rock band they'd been with Leadon's banjos and mandolins. Walsh's soggy slow-dance "Pretty Maids All in a Row" is a low point, but Randy Meisner's final featured vocal with the band, "Try and Love Again," could have been a crack Jayhawks tune in another era. Henley's album closer, "The Last Resort" — often cited as Frey's favorite song by his chief rival in the Eagles' power struggle — took on the environmental concerns that would become the solo Henley's cause.
"You call someplace paradise," he sings, never more soulfully, "kiss it goodbye."