Continuing my return to the albums that have shaped my listening over the years (and this is a series that could run and run), I’ve grabbed two albums with something in common: both are live albums, and each was the album that drew me in to the rest of the band’s music — maybe not the usual way it goes.
First of the two is Hell Freezes Over, by The Eagles, titled with a cute reference to the band’s assertion that they would play together again “when hell freezes over.” :-/ The disc is a recording, for MTV, of the reunion gig 14 years after they disbanded in 1980, with four new studio tracks making up the numbers.
The Eagles made their name with an easy-going kind of country rock, and that’s the dominant style on this disc. Even the songs from their later, harder days maintain the easy vibe.
Standout moments are the acoustic duelling of “Hotel California”, an epic “The Last Resort” and a plaintive yet hopeful “Desperado”. Few of the arrangements are very different from the studio versions in the back catalogue, but there’s something in the delivery that feels a little more mellow, a little more grown-up and weary. All this combined makes Hell Freezes Over my favourite Eagles record and one I’m glad to have dug out again. I’m still listening to it.