The attention to detail and fastidiousness that is required in order to amalgamate a bands history into a documentary is so very big. However, to amalgamate over 50 years of touring and record making from one of the most successful bands of all time is a different feat altogether. The Eagles are timeless, they have touched so many lives and their music is so deep-seated in American culture (as well as around the world) that a transparent and genuine illustration of the bands history through a documentary seemed near enough impossible. Not only are there inner-band relation conflicts, there are legal battles with record labels and shinning an ‘impartial’ light on this would be the only real way to create a genuine documentary. And it is safe to say that not only was this done, but it was done with such a level grace and honesty in its production that it made for an incredibly moving documentary.
Split into two parts, first being prior to the break up in 1980 and second on their reunification in 1994. The journey of the Eagles is truly fascinating, from humble background to international stardom. The way in which this is depicted is brilliant throughout, and there is no stone left unturned. We begin from right at the start with the upbringings of the band members and their paths towards the Los Angeles music scene. Proceeding that we are taken right through the Eagle ages, in the cool company of every eagle member in cut scenes. using unseen photo’s, backstage footage and live material it is a real treat for any Eagles fan. What’s more is the mixing over the top of this footage, the dynamics that are in play throughout is impressive. The music itself mirrors the feelings expressed at that moment in time and helps paint the picture for the viewer.
The inner band conflicts are exposed rather frankly with that of both Don Felder and Glenn Frey, as well as with record producer Glyn Johns and their record company (to name a few). Each person is heard clear as day, everyone in the conflict is present and speaks for themselves during the cut scenes, which is refreshingly unbiased. For the die hard fan or even a casual music fan it is fascinating to see those conflicts play out as well as the reasoning behind them. From the specific recording details of Glyn Johns ‘echo’ to the record company spats with band leaders Frey and Henley.
The Eagles songs are so widely known and loved that people have a certain level of nostalgia linked to each and every song. So it is brilliant to see each member unpicking these songs and the telling us the stories behind the lyrics, the licks and the meanings. From Hotel Californias devil worshiping theories to Glenn Frey’s ‘Life in the fast lane’ highly intoxicated drug run, the insights are genuine, and at times moving.
Seeing the solo careers of all band members after the break up of the band in 1980 is a great ‘middle eight’ in the documentary, as ironically it gives breathing space to the Eagles story itself. There are then flutterings of some sort of disingenuous editing creeping in, as we learn of Felder’s departure. It seems Felder has considerably less camera time compared to the other members and that lack of time shrouds the event leaving an unsavoury taste.
The history of the Eagles is a quintessential music documentary. it encompasses all that a music fan requires; truth, transparency and honesty. Coupled with backstage footage and in-depth interviews that are intertwined with the incredible Eagles back catalogue, this is a must see for any music fan. The importance of the Eagles both in a musical and cultural sense is huge, and this manages to depict that in such a moving and tasteful way that it is unmissable. 9/10
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