Hotel California (Eagles album)
|Studio album by the Eagles|
|Released||December 8, 1976|
|Recorded||March – October 1976|
|Studio||Criteria Studios, Miami, FL and Record Plant Studios, Los Angeles, CA|
|the Eagles chronology|
|Singles from Hotel California|
Hotel California is the fifth studio album by American rock band the Eagles, and is one of the best-selling albums of all time. Three singles were released from the album, each reaching high in the Billboard Hot 100: "New Kid in Town" (No. 1), "Hotel California" (No. 1), and "Life in the Fast Lane" (No. 11). The album became the band's best-selling album after Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975), with over 16 million copies sold in the U.S. alone and over 32 million copies sold worldwide. The album was ranked number 37 on Rolling Stone's list of "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time".
The album was recorded by Bill Szymczyk at the Criteria and Record Plant studios between March and October 1976, and then released on Asylum in December. It was their first album with guitarist Joe Walsh, who had replaced founding member Bernie Leadon, and is the last album to feature bassist Randy Meisner. It is their sixth album (including Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975)), and fifth of new material. The front cover is a photograph of the Beverly Hills Hotel by David Alexander. The album topped the charts and won the band two Grammy Awards for "Hotel California" and "New Kid in Town". The album was nominated for Album of the Year but lost to Fleetwood Mac's Rumours.
Composition and theme
The first song written for the album was "Hotel California", which became the theme for the album. In an interview with the Dutch magazine ZigZag shortly before the album's release, Don Henley said: "This is a concept album, there's no way to hide it, but it's not set in the old West, the cowboy thing, you know. It's more urban this time (…) It's our bicentennial year, you know, the country is 200 years old, so we figured since we are the Eagles and the Eagle is our national symbol, that we were obliged to make some kind of a little bicentennial statement using California as a microcosm of the whole United States, or the whole world, if you will, and to try to wake people up and say 'We've been okay so far, for 200 years, but we're gonna have to change if we're gonna continue to be around.'"
Glenn Frey on the "Hotel California" episode of In the Studio with Redbeard spoke about "The Last Resort", saying it was "the first time that Don took it upon himself to write an epic story and we were already starting to worry about the environment… we're constantly screwing up paradise and that was the point of the song and that at some point there is going to be no more new frontiers. I mean we're putting junk, er, garbage into space now."
The album was recorded between March and October 1976 at Criteria Studios, Miami, FL and Record Plant Studios, Los Angeles, CA, and produced by Bill Szymczyk. While the band were recording the album, Black Sabbath were recording Technical Ecstasy in an adjacent studio at Criteria Studios in Miami. The band were forced to stop recording on numerous occasions because Black Sabbath were too loud and the sound was coming through the wall.
According to Henley in a 1982 interview, the Eagles "probably peaked on Hotel California." Henley said: "After that, we started growing apart as collaborators and as friends."
The front cover artwork is a photograph of the Beverly Hills Hotel by David Alexander with design and art direction by Kosh. The rear album cover was shot in the lobby of the Lido Hotel in Hollywood.
The album was released by Asylum Records on December 8, 1976 in vinyl, cassette and 8-track cartridge formats. It was considered for quadraphonic release in early 1977, but this idea was dropped following the demise of the quadraphonic format. On the album's 25 anniversary in 2001, it was released in a Multichannel 5.1 DVD-Audio disc. On August 17, 2011, the album was released on a hybrid SACD in Japan in The Warner Premium Sound series, containing both a stereo and a 5.1 mix.
Original vinyl pressings of Hotel California (Elektra/Asylum catalog no. 7E-1084) had custom picture labels of a blue Hotel California logo with a yellow background. These also had text engraved in the run-out groove of each side, continuing an in-joke trend the band had started with their third album On the Border. The text reads: Side one: "Is It 6 O'Clock Yet?"; Side two: "V.O.L. Is Five-Piece Live", indicating that the song "Victim of Love" was recorded live, with no overdubbing. Joe Walsh and Glenn Frey confirm this on the inner booklet of The Very Best Of. This only referred to the instrumental track, however; vocals were added later. This was in response to those who criticized the Eagles' practice of copious overdubbing of instruments. They wanted to demonstrate that they could play together without overdubs if they wanted to.
Contemporary reviews indicate critics found the album well made; some found it patchy and unexceptional, others rated it highly. Robert Christgau felt it was their "most substantial if not their most enjoyable LP", while Charley Walters of Rolling Stone felt it showcased "both the best and worst tendencies of Los Angeles-situated rock". Both critics picked on up on the album's California themes - Christgau remarking that while it may in places be "pretentious and condescending" and that "Don Henley is incapable of conveying a mental state as complex as self-criticism", the band couldn't have written the songs on side one "without caring about their California theme down deep"; while Walters felt the "lyrics present a convincing and unflattering portrait of the milieu itself", and that Don Henley's vocals express well "the weary disgust of a victim (or observer) of the region's luxurious excess".
Billboard gave the album high praise: "The casually beautiful, quietly-intense multileveled vocal harmonies and brilliant original songs that meld solid emotional words with lovely melody lines are all back in force, keeping the Eagles at the acme of acoustic electric soft rock." It noted however that apart from what it called the "Procol Harum-type" title track, the album did not try out any new departure, nevertheless thought that "the album proves that there's a lot more left to explore profitably and artistically in the L.A. countryish-rock style." Robert Hilburn of Los Angeles Times, writing after the band broke up, called the album "a legitimate rock masterpiece", in which the band "examined their recurring theme about the American Dream with more precision, power and daring than ever in such stark, uncompromising songs as "Hotel California" and "The Last Resort"."
|1978||"Hotel California"||Record of the Year|
|1977||"New Kid in Town"||Best Arrangement For Voices|
|1978||"Hotel California"||Song of the Year|
|1978||Hotel California||Album of the Year|
|1977||Bill Szymczyk||Producer of the Year|
Later retrospective reviews are mixed. William Ruhlmann writing for AllMusic, feels that "Hotel California unveiled what seemed almost like a whole new band. It was a band that could be bombastic, but also one that made music worthy of the later tag of 'classic rock', music appropriate for the arenas and stadiums the band was playing." Steve Holtje writing in CultureCatch in 2012, felt that even though "an awful lot of the album is snarky whining from co-leaders Don Henley and Glenn Frey, two guys who didn't really seem like they had that much they could legitimately complain about", in the final analysis "Hotel California and the underrated concept album Desperado stand as the group's greatest statements". John Alroy of Wilson & Alroy feels that the album is "one of the biggest LPs of the entire decade, but only a few tracks are solid enough to have merited the hype". The album was listed in 2003 at the number 37 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, and it noted: "The highlight is the title track, a monument to the rock-aristocrat decadence of the day and a feast of triple-guitar interplay."
The album first entered the Billboard 200 at No. 4, reaching No. 1 in its fourth week in January 1977. The album stayed on the top of the chart for eight weeks (non-consecutively), and it was certified Platinum by the RIAA in a week of release. In its first year of release it sold nearly 6 million copies in the United States, and by July 1978 it has sold 9.5 million copies worldwide (7 million in the US and 2.5 million elsewhere internationally). In 2001, the album was certified 16× Platinum by the RIAA, denoting shipment of 16 million in the United States, and has sold over 17 million copies in the US by 2013. Worldwide, the album has sold 32 million copies.
- "New Kid in Town"/"Victim of Love" - Asylum 45373; released December 2, 1976
- "Hotel California"/"Pretty Maids All in a Row" - Asylum 45386; released February 1977
- "Life in the Fast Lane"/"The Last Resort" - Asylum 45403; released May 3, 1977
Hotel California was the Eagles' sixth album (including Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975)), and fifth of original material. It became a critical and commercial success. In 2001, the TV network VH1 placed Hotel California at number 38 on their 100 Greatest Albums of All Time list. Hotel California was ranked 13th in a 2005 survey held by British television's Channel 4 to determine the 100 greatest albums of all time. In 2003, the album was ranked number 37 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
The song "Hotel California" was ranked number 49 on Rolling Stone's list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". The guitar duet at the end of the song was performed by Don Felder and Joe Walsh.
- "Hotel California" (Don Felder, Don Henley, Glenn Frey) – 6:30
- Lead vocals by Don Henley, percussion by Don Henley, guitar solos by Don Felder and Joe Walsh
- "New Kid in Town" (Henley, Frey, J. D. Souther) – 5:04
- Lead vocal by Glenn Frey, electric guitars by Don Felder, electric piano and organ by Joe Walsh, guitarrón by Randy Meisner
- "Life in the Fast Lane" (Henley, Frey, Joe Walsh) – 4:46
- Lead vocal by Don Henley, clavinet by Glenn Frey, lead guitar by Joe Walsh
- "Wasted Time" (Henley, Frey) – 4:55
- Lead vocal by Don Henley, guitar by Don Felder, organ by Joe Walsh, piano by Glenn Frey
- "Wasted Time (Reprise)" (Henley, Frey, Jim Ed Norman) – 1:22
- Strings arranged and conducted by Jim Ed Norman
- "Victim of Love" (Felder, Henley, Frey, Souther) – 4:11
- Lead vocal by Don Henley, lead guitar by Don Felder, slide guitar by Joe Walsh
- "Pretty Maids All in a Row" (Joe Vitale, Walsh) – 4:05
- Lead vocal by Joe Walsh, piano by Joe Walsh, synthesizer by Glenn Frey and Joe Walsh
- "Try and Love Again" (Randy Meisner) – 5:10
- Lead vocals by Randy Meisner, lead guitar by Glenn Frey, Gretsch guitar by Joe Walsh
- "The Last Resort" (Henley, Frey) – 7:25
- Lead vocal by Don Henley, pedal steel guitar by Don Felder, synthesizer by Don Henley and Joe Walsh
Adapted from AllMusic.
- Don Felder – guitars, pedal steel guitar, slide guitar, vocals
- Glenn Frey – guitars, piano, clavinet, synthesizer, vocals
- Don Henley – drums, percussion, synthesizer, vocals
- Randy Meisner – bass, guitarrón, vocals
- Joe Walsh – guitars, slide guitar, piano, electric piano, organ, synthesizer, vocals
- Bill Szymczyk – producer, mixing
- Allan Blazek, Bruce Hensal, Ed Mashal, Bill Szymczyk – engineers
- Jim Ed Norman – string arrangements, conductor
- Sid Sharp – concert master
- Don Henley, John Kosh – art direction
- John Kosh – design
- David Alexander – photography
- Kosh – artwork
- Norman Seeff – poster design
- Kevin Gray – CD preparation
- Ted Jensen – mastering and remastering
- Lee Hulko – original LP mastering
|Austria (IFPI Austria)||Gold||25,000*|
|Australia (ARIA)||8× Platinum||560,000^|
|Canada (Music Canada)||Diamond||1,000,000^|
|Hong Kong (IFPI Hong Kong)||Platinum||15,000*|
|Japan (Oricon Charts)||493,000|
|New Zealand (RMNZ)||9× Platinum||135,000^|
|Spain (PROMUSICAE)||4× Platinum||400,000^|
|Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)||2× Platinum||100,000^|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||6× Platinum||1,800,000^|
|United States (RIAA)||16× Platinum||17,000,000|
*sales figures based on certification alone
- List of best-selling albums
- List of best-selling albums in the United States
- List of diamond-certified albums in Canada
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