THE EAGLES: LIVE FROM MELBOURNE
Review by Mark Wiechman
Frey, Don Henley, Joe Walsh, Timothy B. Schmidt
Director: Carol Dodds
Audio: PCM Stereo, DTS Surround 5.1
Video: Color, 16 x 9 aspect
Studio: WEA Corp
Features: See Review
Length: Two discs, 190 minutes
Release Date: June 14, 2005
will never forget you ‘til somebody new comes along…”
The Eagles themselves once thought that they might be
forgotten, but since no one has come along who does what they do as well as they
can, they continue to fly high. The
new kids have grown up and left, but three generations still come to hear the
Linda Ronstadt once faced the perennial problem that most
singers encounter: she needed a
good backup band. Her career was
starting to take off, but musicians, especially in the early 70’s, were pretty
unreliable and prone to drug and alcohol problems.
She had a good guitarist friend who went looking for other musicians,
especially ones who could sing. He
met a good drummer who could also sing, and said that it appeared that his band
was breaking up, would he like to join Ronstadt’s band and make $200 a week, a
good sum at the time. The drummer
replied that it sounded good to him. And
thus did Glenn Frey and Don Henley come together.
Unfortunately for Ronstadt, the band decided to do their own thing soon
after. Ahh, good help is so hard to
find. Henley and Frey, the only two
original members still in the Eagles, went on to become THE big thing of the
late 1970’s, being the most successful songwriting duo since Lennon and
said the night man,
We are programmed to receive.
You can checkout any time you like,
but you can never leave!”
In the late 60’s and early 70’s the southern California
sound was thriving with a laid-back combination of folksy rock and electric
country which emphasized good songwriting and vocals, leaving behind most of the
corny and outdated cliché’s of country music. This made the style palatable to just about any audience and
influenced a whole generation of rockers and country artists alike.
Singers who wrote their own tunes sold millions of albums and bands in
this milieu were basically mini-communes of singer-songwriters.
freedom, oh freedom well, that's just some people talkin'
Your prison is walking through this world all alone.”
The latter part of the decade would not really belong to
Disco as many VH-1 specials would tell you.
Disco thankfully was a craze which came and went, like a bus that many
successful bands jumped onto and then got off at the appropriate stop before the
bus crashed into a wall of polyester. The
other style, and the more influential one which sounds just as good today as
then, was the California country-rock style. And no band soared higher vocally or financially than The
Eagles. Their reunion for the Hell
Freezes Over, however, might not have happened were it not for the “Common
Thread” album on which country artists did their own versions of many Eagles
hits. I remember working in a record store in the more rural part
of Jacksonville when I heard the album, and while it was good, everyone felt
that the Eagles did rock better than rock artists and did country better than
the country artists. Their legacy
never thought you'd be alone
this far down the line
And I know what's been on your mind
You're afraid it's all been wasted time.”
This excellent concert, as good as any I have seen on DVD
or live, features many hits not heard on the outstanding Hell Freezes Over DVD. The
overall attitude is different as well: the band seems more laid back and
comfortable being both a band and a collection of solo artists.
Glenn Frey in particular seems more confident, healthy, and sings with
more soul than ever. Many
solo hits are featured, which as Don Henley explains keeps them from having to
be an Eagle or a non-Eagle, and many of the tunes would have made great Eagles
songs anyway (such as "Heart of
the Matter" which was sung and played in excelsis by the whole group
on the other DVD). However, the
solo tunes do pale somewhat compared with the Eagles hits, which proves that
while there is tons of talent in the band, they are far greater than the sum of
their parts. They are more relaxed since they don’t really have anything to
prove anymore. As much as I admire
Don Felder, the incredible lead guitarist who wrote the cryptic opening chords
of “Hotel California,” his departure due to money squabbles is not exactly
tragic since there are plenty of guitarists out there who know every lick he
can spend all your time making money
You can spend all your love making time
If it all fell to pieces tomorrow
Would you still be mine?”
The two-disc set has thirty songs and extensive interviews
on the second disc. When shown on
network TV, interview clips were shown between songs, but on the DVD release
they were thankfully separated. Would
someone please tell me why most rock concert releases constantly interrupt good
concert footage with interviews, even to the point of listening to a star drone
on about his money problems while the songs play in the background?
girls just seem to find out early
How to open doors with just a smile
A rich old man
And she won't have to worry
She'll dress up all in lace and go in style.”
The new tracks are disappointing compared with the
excellent "Learn to Be Still"
and the shimmering "Love Will Keep
Us Alive" from Hell Freezes
Over DVD but they are not bad. The
post 9/11 "Hole in the World"
has the usual flower child lyrics one might expect but the gorgeous harmonies
just can’t be denied or duplicated. Fortunately
they do a mostly different songlist than the prior DVD, including great versions
of "Peaceful Easy Feeling"
and "Lyin’ Eyes"
though "Best of My Love"
is still omitted for some reason.
I could have been an actor, but I wound up here
I just have to look good, I don’t have to be clear.”
A slightly better picture than Hell
Freezes Over, and I suspect it is because technology has improved since that
release. This time the stage is much darker, but even in wide camera
panning, there is no spottiness nor other visual flaws one might expect.
See, Sir Paul, this is how DVD’s are supposed to look!
A backlit shot of Henley facing the huge crowd during Wasted
Time is one of the prettiest shots I have seen in a concert.
Interestingly, the Eagles do
relatively simple songs, but the add nuances that no one else could, and they
also insist on the highest technology standards.
DTS is the only 5.1 option and it is loud and proud, easy to hear
everything, and the rear channels have only minimal crowd noise and plenty of
keys and other less-emphasized instruments to let the vocals come shining
through the front channels. Thank
you for getting it right!
Not much here but the interviews are
very insightful and pleasant. For
instance, all of them contend that the band actually sounds better now than in
their 70’s heyday, and Frey points out that they listen to each other better,
which is often a challenge for the best bands.
They compliment one another without sounding phony.