Friday, October 10, 2014

History Of The Eagles

History Of The EaglesI first caught this documentary on the Showtime channel in one setting (Parts 1 & 2). It was originally broken down in 2 parts. The first part shows the band members in their formative years and ends with their eventual breakup in 1980. The shorter part 2 deals with their lives afterwards, ending with their Farewell 1 Tour in 2005. Together the film runs a little over 3 hours. Certainly for Eagle fans, it is time well spent. Even if you're not a fan, it chronicles the seeds of a rock band in the 1970's.

The early lives of writing partners Don Henley and Glenn Frey is well detailed including some interesting home videos. We see an early association with Jackson Browne and a brief time backing up Linda Ronstdat. We get a no holds barred look at the inner turmoil that comes with the growth of a rock band. We see the early comings and goings of band members leading up to a bitter breakup with lead guitarist Don Felder.

One thing that comes through is the success of the group has transcended generations like few others. Their strength comes from some great song writing, often at the hand of Henley and Frey and some of the great 4 or 5 part vocal harmony. We get some first person detail of booze and drug binges, especially those of Joe Walsh.

So what's missing? Well, certainly family and wives are tipped toed around and we see virtually nothing of them. We don't any of the juicy sexy-time stories which are all but ignored. How about some celebrity union stories? Still this is an entertaining journey through the lives of one of America's musical treasures.

Available in April, the Blu ray package includes 3 discs in 1080p video resolution with a DTS-HD Master Audio option. Also included is a photo booklet and hours of new, previously unreleased material. Also included on the 3rd disc (which I haven't seen) is 1977 concert performances from the Capital Centre in Landover, Md. (Hotel California Tour) including Hotel California, New Kid In Town, Take It To The Limit, One Of These Nights, Lyin' Eyes, Rocky Mountain Way, Best Of My Love and Take It Easy.

Love them or hate them, The Eagles are a band that ran up a string of hits through the seventies that defined much of the decade. They've been accused of being narcissistic, overtly mellow, egotistical, and other things not all that complimentary. "The History Of The Eagles" spells all this out in detail, which makes it almost indispensable for fans of the bands or for folks who wonder how a seventies band made it though the music industry.

While the band was centered around the songwriting axis of Glenn Frey and Don Henley, every band member, past and present, gets a say. It's a warts and all approach, often unflattering but frequently compelling. Managers, producers, album cover artists and fellow musicians (Bob Seger, Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne and more) get their say. The music drives the narrative, sticking closely to the evolution of tha band as they release their consecutive albums, up to the acrimonious split around 1980.

However, the movie is broken into two parts, and the second half details the members as they seek separate careers and the reunion that takes place 14 years later. Again, the footage is not always flattering to the band (Don Felder gets so frustrated that he walks out of one of his segments), but the Eagles get, As Henley puts it, "that rarest of things in America, a second act." This covers the period from "Hell Freezes Over" to the independently released "Long Road Out Of Eden." The whole deal clocks in at 3hrs and 15 mins, making the documentary as exhaustive as can be.

Loaded with plenty of vintage (those seventies haircuts!) and never before seen clips to add to the attitude of the movie. And as you watch these men, now elder statesmen of classic rock, make their case for the importance of the Eagles, you get the feeling that attitude (along with plenty of the big three, sex and drugs and rock and roll) fueled The Eagles through the run that continues to this day. Some will find it bloated and unwatchable, the rest of us, with memories of where the Eagles were in our lives, will find this invaluable.

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Before all the how can you review something that is not even released yet bashing begins, let me first off say I watched the 3 hour documentary twice. While all the live footage and classic era interviews are golden, the 1977 Hotel California concert footage is definitely the cream de la creme. Secondly, the press release for this has been released. Everything you saw in the 3 hours will be released with no additional bonus documentatry footage. Also about 8 tracks from the 1977 concert will be released as a dvd part of this package. Why not just release the whole darn concert? I've got a boot of one of the shows filmed during the tour, but the concert footage show in the documenatary is definitely master why not just release the entire concert???? Why only pieces of a show??? It's 2013...why not give the fans the real deal...

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I've been anxiously awaiting this Blu Ray, as after seeing it on SHOWTIME it really exposes all the angles and many unanswered questions as to what happened to the Eagles in the late 70's and also in particular, Don Felder, which you have to read his book "Heaven & Hell with the Eagles" to get the full picture.

That said, there is so much footage from the 70's we've never seen before, one wonders how they kept all this private until now. To see how the story unfolds from day one when Frey and Henley played in a band with Linda Rondstadt and broke off into their own band is simply fascinating... I could write a book on this DVD/BR, but you'll have to buy it for yourself to fully appreciate what the Eagles went through all those years.

The Audio: recorded in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is truly outstanding. They really did a great job in using all the surround channels, hence making you feel as though you're in the audience when watching their concert (separate disk that comes with this set), and also anytime their shown playing together on Part-1 & Part-2.

The Video:

For the most part the video looks very good in 1080p, but during certain parts like when they flash back to "Hell Freezes Over" and some of Henley and Frey's solo footage the video becomes grainy almost to the point its annoying. Its the disk, not your player or HD tv, as I have an Oppo-BDP-95 Blu ray player and one of Samsung's higher end HD tv's. The graininess is tolerable, but its the only reason I didn't score this 3 disk set with a 5. If you're a audiophile such as I, then this is one for your reference collection.

To see Felder and Walsh playing in their heyday together (especially Hotel California) is truly brilliant. Its so unfortunate Felder and Frey couldn't move past their issues and keep Felder in the band, as he's every bit as much as an Eagle as any of them. Anyway, this is a great story about one of America's greatest, most successful bands of all time, so buy it while you can, as $30 is a small investment for such an outstanding story of how the Eagles gained so much success and fame throughout the world during their 40 years of tremendous success! Definitely one of my favorite bands! I hope you enjoy this story as much as I did.

Want History Of The Eagles Discount?

This is an incredible documentary, but a missed opportunity on several levels with this release. First, the official release should have had extra unseen footage and interviews not seen in the early Showtime release earlier this year. Give us die hard fans a little bonus for going out and buying the big package. Second, have some additional "bonus" side footage or lost footage not seen in the documentary and not part of the documentary. We want to see it badly. This documentary should stand as the "official" historical document for the band...make it count. Finally, the Capital Theatre footage should have been the entire concert. It is the most amazing footage I have ever seen regarding The Eagles...beautifully shot on film with just the most incredible hi-fi sound imaginable. This band was so good it was just stupid...they were stupid good! Give us the entire show for Christ's sake... This was the band at the zenith of their career. If you think you know simply don't if you haven't seen this Capital Theatre footage. They redefine excellence.

Ok, so what they did do right was give us the classic line-up with with Randy Meisner on bass. What an incredibly underrated musician and singer. The man played the most incredible bass lines and sang like an angel all whilst locking in with Henley and anchoring the band into a cohesive 747 Jetliner. Too bad he didn't hold on for just a little longer as the Eagles only lasted three more years. They were never the same after he left. You can only replace so many members of a group before you lose the essence and energy of what you once had and what made you special. The loss of Don Felder is another example. How can you replace Don Felder? It simply isn't possible and while the new guy plays the isn't with the same essence and energy. The peak of their career was with these five guys: Henley, Frey, Meisner, Felder, Walsh. After the breakup of this classic line-up, the band self-destructed. The end.

In a nutshell, give us more vintage material because we will buy it. Don't wait so long that your audience grows too old and eventually no longer cares!!!

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