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Eagles - The Long Run: Album Of The Week Club Review

Following up Hotel California was hard enough, and The Long Run showed there was life left for Eagles... but not for long

Eagles - The Long Run
Eagles - The Long Run

Eagles - The Long Run

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

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Hotel California was such a hard act to follow that the Eagles spent two years making The Long Run – a product of cocaine-fuelled perfectionism that led inexorably to the band’s implosion in 1980. "We made ourselves ill," Don Henley told us. 

Few traces of the Eagles’ country roots remained here, save for Frey’s whoops on the rollicking US number one Heartache Tonight. The album’s smooth, clinical sound is typified by deluxe MOR ballad I Can’t Tell You Why, sung by Randy Meisner’s replacement Timothy B Schmit, and Henley’s creepy dance-rock track The Disco Strangler

Some think it's a great record. Others have described it as "turning throwaway, half-baked songs into an art form". Either way, in America, it was the last number one album of the 70s – a fitting way for the Eagles’ imperial phase to end.

Every week, Album of the Week Club listens to and discusses the album in question, votes on how good it is, and publishes our findings, with the aim of giving people reliable reviews and the wider rock community the chance to contribute. 

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Other albums released in September 1979

  • Siouxsie and the Banshees - Join Hands
  • Foreigner - Head Games
  • Jethro Tull - Stormwatch
  • Rory Gallagher - Top Priority
  • Frank Zappa - Joe's Garage Act I
  • Judas Priest - Unleashed in the East
  • Foghat - Boogie Motel
  • The Police - Message in a Bottle
  • The Stranglers - The Raven
  • Leonard Cohen - Recent Songs
  • Wire - 154
  • The Slits - Cut
  • Buzzcocks - A Different Kind of Tension
  • Bonnie Raitt - The Glow
  • Santana - Marathon
  • U.K. - Night After Night
  • Sammy Hagar - Street Machine

What they said...

"The Long Run, the Eagles first album in three years, is a chilling and altogether brilliant evocation of Hollywood’s nightly Witching Hour, that nocturnal feeding frenzy first detailed by Warren Zevon on his haunting Asylum debut (Warren Zevon, 1976) and the equally powerful Excitable Boy. Both Zevon and the Eagles have employed the desperado and the ghoul as anti-romantic symbols of the star caught in the devil’s bargain. And both eventually came to realize that they had to give up the guise of observers and confess their roles as participants." (Rolling Stone)

"The album was dominated by second-rank songs like The Disco Strangler, King of Hollywood, and Teenage Jail that sounded like they couldn't have taken three hours much less three years to come up with. (Joe Walsh's In the City was up to his usual standard, but it may not even have been an Eagles recording, having appeared months earlier on the soundtrack to The Warriors, where it was credited as a Walsh solo track.) Amazingly, The Long Run reportedly was planned as a double album before being truncated to a single disc. If these were the keepers, what could the rejects have sounded like?" (AllMusic)

"Not as country-rocky as you might expect--the Eagles are pros who adapt to the times, and they make the music tough. I actually enjoy maybe half of these songs until I come into contact with the conceited, sentimental woman-haters who are doing the singing. I mean, these guys think punks are cynical and antilife? Guys who put down "the king of Hollywood" because his dick isn't as big as John David Souther's? (Robert Christgau)

What You Said

Maxwell Martello: Believe or not, but when I was a kid, I wanted to buy Desperado because when I saw the album sleeve I thought “man, these guys look like Motörhead on the cover of Ace of Spades”! I then went through my Big Lebowski phase... you know that line “I hate the fucking Eagles, man”... 

These days I’m totally into their back catalogue. I just love them. There’s one thing about a particular song on this very record that I want you readers to pay attention to. It’s called The King Of Hollywood and it’s the ultimate tale of La La Land’s darkside.

In the aftermath of Weinstein’s scandal, lines such as the following become particularly creepy and effective:

Come sit down here beside me honey
Let's have a little heart to heart
Now look at me and tell me darlin'
How badly do you want this part?
Are you willing to sacrifice
And are you willing to be real nice
All your talent and my good taste
I'd hate to see it go to waste.

And the instrumental part is amazing too... they sure knew how to write and arrange a good one. The Eagles are now one of my favourite bands and while I definitely prefer their first two records, I find gold in every single album of theirs.

Michael Piwowarski: Having heard this album a few times I have mixed feelings about it. Here are my main points:

First of all, it was the Eagles' last record before breaking up in 1980, so that kind of creates a sad vibe going throughout the album. I suppose it's not quite as sad as their heavily overdubbed 1980 live album.

Secondly, it showed a lot of potential in bassist Timothy Schmit. He got to sing exactly one song for the band, and it was on this album. Schmit had a fantastic falsetto voice, and while he didn't sound like Randy Meisner, he was still a fine musician and singer, and I don't think he got the fair chance he deserved. That's all because the band fell apart so quickly after he was hired.

Also, the style changes towards a more manufactured rock sound; a departure of sorts from their earlier works, which had a distinctive country edge. While there is nothing wrong with it and The Long Run is a perfectly good classic rock record, it still doesn't feel as much like The Eagles to me as, say, On the Border or One of These Nights

Don Henley dominates this album, having sung most of the songs on it, with a select few by Glenn Frey, Joe Walsh and Timothy Schmit. I think The Long Run could have used more Glenn Frey, but that's just me; he has always been my personal favorite Eagles singer. Again, nothing necessarily wrong with the album and I still like Henley fine. I just felt that Frey (and perhaps Walsh) could have had more than one song on the album.

Gary Torborg: Underrated and unfairly (IMHO) criticized at the time, The Long Run is a great album showing what could have been if they had just not fought themselves to death. If Hotel California had never happened, people would be looking at this as a great album. 

As it was, there really was very little to criticize here when you take the album song by song. Even The Disco Strangler is great satire that only Don Henley could pull off (it even sounds a little like his solo stuff to come in the 80s). 

Favorite track: Those Shoes. Sure, they seemed to lose their country roots here, but frankly, they already lost them with Hotel California. This was obviously a band in transition, and it would have been a marvellous thing to watch into the 80s if they could have just figured out a way to get along. Just imagine all those great Henley or Frey songs done as Eagles songs (think New York Minute from Hell Freezes Over) had they continued. Alas, rock history won't record such a thing. Were it not for Long Road Out Of Eden, this would have been their swan song, and really not a bad way to go.

Jacob Tannehill: Good album. Definitely hardly any country, southern roots to be found, but they were evolving, for better or for worse. Title track is superb. Heartache Tonight, outstanding. I can’t tell you why is a masterpiece. And don’t forget In the City

Now there were some clunkers. Teenage jail, Greeks Don’t Want No Freaks...

I give it an 8 cause the four songs I mentioned above are absolute stunners... and they still hold up today.

Iain Macaulay: Sorry, computer says - uh, uh. I was so disappointed when I saw that cover photo I actually sighed. The only other album to do that to me in this club was Brothers In Arms. But - regardless of what I think, and like every album posted here for our opinion, I’ve given it a listen as it isn’t an album I’m familiar with, or song titles I recognised, and... Other than possibly Those Shoes which somehow brought to mind something akin to a Roger Waters composition circa The Wall it did nothing. Sorry. 

I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I’m not American, or maybe it’s because over the years I’ve had to play several of their songs in bands and found them dull to play, Desperado being the only exception, and the only song of theirs I can truly say from me is great, but I just don’t get them. 

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate them and I wouldn’t turn the radio off if they came on but I’m afraid to say they do nothing for me and unfortunately this album hasn’t changed my opinion or made me like their material any better. Still, there’s worse ways to spend a Monday evening than listening to an album you’ve never heard before, there was always the chance I might have had my perception altered.

Chris Vasquez: Good album considering the drama, and turmoil that went with recording it. Both Timothy B. Schmit, and Joe Walsh stepped up to the plate and put out two of the finest tracks on that album... is still one of my favorites.

David Clancy: Please don’t be a hater, but I actually really like this album except for I Can’t Tell You Why. That tune’s a snoozer to me. But then, I’m not a fan of their earlier (country) hits either. Hotel California is great too in my book.

Ben L. Connor: It’s still pretty good, but this is easily the Eagles’s worst album.  They were so desperate not to be pigeonholed as ‘country rock’ anymore that they indulged any old whims. The Disco Strangler and The Greeks Don’t Want No Freaks are just bad by anyone’s standards. And while King Of Hollywood and The Sad Cafe are pretty good, they pale next to proper epics like The Last Resort.

This is one of those albums where the singles really are the best thing about it.

James West: It's their second best album behind Hotel. Disco Strangler, King Of Hollywood, In The City- All have glorious guitar harmonies and choruses. It's gotten better with its age and mine!

Don Holmes: Long run suffers because it’s the album that has to deliver...the follow up to Hotel California was going to have a tough time and I think this does.

The 80’s was not my favourite era by any band so I was always going to be critical. Heartache Tonight and In The City are the standout tracks but the competition to be a standout track on this album was never a tough call. My verdict: egos got bigger than The Eagles on this one.

Jim Linning: The Eagles only ever made one good album... and that was Greatest Hits! There, I've said it! This album never appeared on my 19 year old radar when it came out, and listening again nowadays with more mature AOR attuned ears... nah, still doesn't work for me. Sorry.

Tom Dee: Got this on vinyl when it came out. Thought it was a good album at the time. Just listened to it after many years and it sounds so dated and boring. It is not a classic album as this forum suggests. Still, a couple of good songs that stand out - King of Hollywood and The Sad Cafe - but it's generally mundane stuff. 

I could never get on with Timothy B Schmit being in the band. They had a rougher edge with Randy Meisner and I like his ballads better on the earlier albums. As someone else has said, On the Border is a great album from the early years. 

Doug Foster: Starts off strong, but I have a tough time making it all the way through it anymore. A solid half-album, hard to believe it took two years and so many songwriters and this was the best they could do. Of course, the audio of Felder and Frey yelling at each other onstage on this tour is a fantastic listen.

Philip Qvist: Good album - the title track, In the City and Heartache Tonight are killer tracks.

I have never made the mistake of comparing it to Hotel California - as it will come off second best every time. Rather judge it on its own merits.

If this album killed off the Eagles (until Hell Freezes Over), then I can think of a lot worst albums that have killed off bands. Not the best album from the Eagles but a great album nonetheless.

Jeff Tweeter: This is the first Eagles album I ever got into. I was at that age - 11, 12 - and some of my friends had it. I discovered it completely out of context of what the Eagles were all about. I Can't Tell You Why is to this day one of my favorite songs. Maybe not a proper Eagles song, but tattooed on my soul nevertheless. It's pretty much my favorite Eagles album just by default. Although, knowing now what I didn't know then, I can see how it's kinda much ado about not much in their catalog. 

The U.S. saw it as a fitting requiem to that whole 70's California thing, while the U.K. saw it as a big, smouldering turd. All 'n all, a decent swan song, for the Eagles and the 70's. No, Long Road Out Of Eden was not a swan song - that was a cash grab.

David Alejandro Cepeda Benavides: The Long Run is a good album from The Eagles, it's just that the bar was too high after the legendary Hotel California. It was their magnum opus and The Long Run had a lot of pressure for that reason. But it had pretty good songs like the title track, I Can Tell You Why, In The City and Heartache Tonight.. although none of these tracks can surpass any of the Hotel California songs.

Mike Knoop: I generally dislike the Eagles because... 

a) They really did not rock all that much. For every Life in the Fast Lane or James Dean, there are three or four tepid ballads or adult contemporary pop tunes. And that stat doesn't include the generally likeable country rock from the earlier albums. 

b) They, especially Henley, seemed to be real sleazeballs. Nothing new in rock, I know, but they, especially Henley, seem to set a new low for being a sanctimonious, hypocritical @%$#! about it. It's hard to reconcile sentiments like Take It Easy and Peaceful Easy Feeling with coke-fueled millionaire musicians banging underage girls.

c) Both the song and album Hotel California. I never need to hear their version of the song again. And again, to my earlier point, the album is 2/3 pop ballads. Only Fast Lane and Victim of Love are unquestionably rockers. Even the usually reliably rockin' Joe Walsh turns in a flaccid ballad.

That said, I actually like The Long Run a lot. The rocker to ballad ratio is finally corrected. And the insides finally match the outsides: sleaze, drugs, desperation, and projectile vomiting abound. Even the mostly black album cover celebrates the darkness long before Metallica (or Spinal Tap) did.

I think Those Shoes is the best song they have ever done. From the opening bass and cymbals to the orgiastic dual talk box solo, it just oozes menace and malice.Disco Strangler is a close second as Henley parodies disco by accidentally writing perhaps the best disco rocker ever. And King of Hollywood? Damn! While it could certainly be about a Weinstein-type predator, I always thought it was Henley secretly singing about himself. Even frat rocker, The Greeks Don't Want No Freaks, comes across as spiteful, thanks to the mean-spirited lyrics.

The three singles are good and I can't deny the power of Timothy B. Schmidt's voice on I Can't Tell You Why. Even Teenage Jail is lifted with the unhinged synth solo by Glenn Frey. Joe Walsh's In the City is great, but it was borrowed wholesale from the soundtrack of The Warriors, where it's listed as a Walsh solo tune, so it's hard to give them much credit for that one. The only real dud is The Sad Cafe, another one of those maudlin, lukewarm ballads.

In conclusion, another great pick - not that there have been any real bad ones. Each week offers the chance to listen for the first time or listen again and reappraise or double down. I am overjoyed to be a member of the "broad church" of Classic Rock Magazine.

Joe Cogan: As my opinion of the Eagles is similar to The Dude’s, there is little I can add to the conversation here, except that In The City is an excellent Joe Walsh song, and I like I Can’t Tell You Why, probably because it sounds nothing like the Eagles.

Hannah Wolfe: Out of the work they produced during this decade, this album is not my favorite. It lacks the free-spirited, outlaw, California-dreaminess albums like Hotel California and One Of These Nights had. One of the biggest disappointments of this record was the lack of expressive guitar parts. Part of what made Hotel California so iconic was Joe Walsh and Don Felder's exceptional guitar playing and it seems almost non-existent on this album, which is a real bummer. Furthermore, the arrangements aren't very interesting and sound like a band who has run out of ideas.

Nick Potter: I was a massive fan of the Eagles throughout the 1970s especially when Joe Walsh joined them, and made a massive difference to their overall sound. The record has a very smooth polished sound, almost bordering on MOR. I still love this record, and think the musicianship is superb, my favourites being In the City and Those Shoes, with fabulous use of Wah Wah pedals by both Joe and Glenn Frey.

Richard Taylor: A band that repeatedly hit home runs throughout the 70s now faced the pitcher after the massive success of Hotel California. Could they follow it up, could they find the next statement? While imploding somewhat as a band they took the bat and struck The Long Run. Grooves, songs, this exemplar of Americana remained a vital brew to these English ears. Classiness with immediacy... that is The Long Run.

Carl Black: I can remember listening (trying to listen) to my dad's Hotel California LP. After the title track there is nothing as interesting as that song. The laid-back vocal, the story and the solos. I'd turn it off before the first side had ended. The same can be said about nine of the ten songs here. Boring and one paced. Then out of the the blue an Alice In Chains song appears in the shape of Teenage Jail. They should cover that song for sure. This is the other end of my musical taste. It was always going to struggle. And it was a struggle... to finish the album.

Final Score: 6.33 ⁄10 (209 votes cast, with a total score of 1325)

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