Released after two of the biggest selling albums in music history Their Greatest Hits (1975) and the glassy, critically acclaimed Hotel California (1976), the highly anticipated The Long Run was confirmed something of a disappointment upon release despite being a number one hit and selling several million copies. The subsequent tour effectively finished the band in a cliché of late-70s West Coast excess: cocaine, big egos and big money. Only a pieced-together live album in 1980 (Eagles Live) would follow until the inevitable reunion a decade and a half later.
Throughout the 70s the Eagles were the country’s number one participants in the optimistic “peaceful easy feeling” hypnotism of stardom-obsessed LA, and the all-encompassing rock and roll fame machine. This album, weak and inconsistent upon first listen, is actually a stark portrayal of the sunset strip culture, moving in a more hard rock direction and drawing on the recurrent themes of predatory glitter (The Disco Strangler), nightmarish glamour (Those Shoes), and tantalising hedonism (King of Hollywood), providing chilling and brilliant evocations of the desperate dreams and dark despair of Hollywood nightlife.
Three years in the making and consolidating the tight, spacious, stinging duel guitar attack of Joe Walsh and Don Felder, the Eagles had essentially handed over creative control to leader Don Henley who dominates this album, co-writing nine of the ten tracks and singing seven including the Stax R&B 4/4 stylings of the fine title track. It is a strong, experienced, almost arrogant affair, sophisticated well-beyond the feel-good mellow country rock of their early works. Glen Frey doing “what’s best for the Eagles”, only appearing on the old fashioned rock n’ roll of Heartache Tonight and one song showcasing Walsh (In the City) and another to ex-Poco bassist Timothy B. Schmidt (the delicate I Can’t Tell You Why), replacing the much loved Randy Meisner.
The Long Run closes looking back on the past with the masterful The Sad Café, a song dedicated to their early days as Linda Ronstadt’s backing band in LA’s legendary Troubadour bar where some of our dreams came true – some of them passed away. There was some hope in the end despite the sleaze, self-indulgence and despair, and this would be the group’s swansong, David Sanborn’s soulful sax a poignant finish to what would be perceived as the end of the Eagles’ career. Uncommercial when compared to the glamorous posturing of Hotel California, The Long Run is an unflinchingly honest album containing some of their very best work, recorded at both their creative peak and personal dissolution.1. The Long Run ∗∗∗∗ 2. I Can’t Tell You Why ∗∗∗∗ 3. In the City ∗∗∗ 4. The Disco Strangler ∗∗∗ 5. King of Hollywood ∗∗∗∗ 6. Heartache Tonight ∗∗ 7. Those Shoes ∗∗∗∗ 8. Teenage Jail ∗∗ 9. The Greeks Don’t Want No Freaks ∗ 10. The Sad Cafe ∗∗∗∗∗