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Rhythm & Views

Eagles

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The appropriate knee-jerk reaction here is, "How many times will hell freeze over before we are done with this aging, overhyped, self-important band?" On top of this, the Eagles had the audacity to award Wal-Mart, the evil empire itself, an exclusive distribution deal.

The only problems with this line of rhetoric: 1. It's not really a commercial album; 2. It's a double CD they've priced at only $11; 3. There's a killer collection of tunes, many of which are pleasantly surprising in scope and presentation.

"No More Walks in the Wood" embodies this most. This near a cappella tune opens the album with a stunning, if melancholy, set of harmonies; it's a haunting poem given just enough music to make it special. What follows is "How Long," a J.D. Souther tune that evokes the best of Eagles vintage 1973, back when bassist Timothy B. Schmit and the country-rock sensibility he brought over from Poco defined their sound. Then there's "Busy Being Fabulous," a monster groove more suitable for a juicy R&B outfit than our perception of the Eagles.

Glenn Frey and Don Henley are the principal writers, but there are lots of helping hands throughout in co-songwriters, producers and players, all helping to push the creative edge. There are a handful of cringe moments, especially when the strings and syrupy ballads kick in. But there is also a substance and lyrical depth to this recording that almost makes it a concept album, especially on the second disc. The Eagles as a creatively relevant force in the 21st century--whodathunkit?

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