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This should have been the Eagles follow-up to Hotel California
on 19 September 2013
In 1978, the Eagles were lost. With the release of their landmark "Hotel California" album, Messrs Henley, Frey, Meisner, Felder and Walsh had considerably upped the ante and set themselves up with a mission impossible to top it. During what should have been their triumphant tour, they lost Randy Meisner and whilst Timothy Schmidt might have helped to keep them focused as a live unit, the powerful songwriting partnership of Henley and Frey had come to a complete stop. Two years were spent trying to record an ambitious follow-up. When it belatedly emerged in 1979, "The Long Run" was a disappointment. Despite some fine songs, for the first time an Eagles album had filler on it.
What they should have done is gone with Joe Walsh and recorded "But Seriously Folks" as an Eagles album and perhaps supplemented it with some of the superior material from "The Long Run". It's clear that Walsh's involvement in the Eagles had rubbed off on him. Even if they hadn't appeared on the album, "But Seriously Folks" sounds like it could have been an Eagles album. To my mind, it's a worthier follow-up to "Hotel California" than "The Long Run".
We'll never know, of course, what would have happened to the Eagles had they recorded this album as a unit instead of "The Long Run" so all we can do is simply enjoy this classic for what it is: Joe Walsh's triumph. During his career up to this point, he had recorded some fantastic albums with the James Gang, Barnstorm, himself and, of course, a certain country-rock band who ruled 70s radio. This is my favourite album because it's so subtle and fragile at points. "Second Hand Store" is beautifully reflective and you can feel the weight of a bad hangover slowly lifting as Walsh surveys the remnants of another hotel room trashed Keith Moon style. "Indian Summer" is gorgeous. Walsh's gentler work is so under-rated because of his axe-man reputation. His vocals occasionally veer dangerously towards parody but just before he teeters over the edge, he pulls back to safety.
There isn't a bad song on this album. Each track is a gem. But of course, standing head and shoulders above all this, is the classic "Life's Been Good", Walsh at his satiric best.
I bought the 24 KT + Gold Audio Fidelity version, which was mastered by Steve Hoffman. Sound wise, it's warm and full-bodied, more organic in feel than the regular CD version. However, I was a bit disappointed with the packaging. For a limited numbered edition, the slipcase and jewel case are very cheap. I paid about £20 including postage. It was sealed and brand new. I don't think it's a fake or an imitation, but it's a real shame that the packaging lacked the solidity of other limited, numbered editions. On the other hand, it was a good price and the album is fantastic.