No, Hotel California is not the biggest selling Eagles album. That honor belongs to Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975, which is the biggest selling album of all time. Hotel California has to settle for being the third biggest selling album of all time, and of course The Eagles’ biggest selling regular album.
It’s the first album they recorded with Joe Walsh, and there’s no mistaking that. The guitar riff in “Life in the Fast Lane” has Walsh written all over it. I’d vote for him for president! Oh wait, different Joe Walsh.
While it was their most rockin’ album up to that point, they still didn’t leave behind their country-ish sound, as seen in “New Kid in Town”.
Musically, the album has that 70’s concept album feel to it. Side 1 ends with the slow but intense “Wasted Time” and side 2 picks up with an orchestral reprise of “Wasted Time” before going into the hard rockin’ “Victim of Love”.
A hidden gem on the album is Joe Walsh’s excellent ballad “Pretty Maids All in a Row” which would have made a great closer to the album, with lyrics like “the storybook comes to a close” and a nice slow fade. But another sleeper tune made an even better closer — “The Last Resort”. At over 7 minutes long, it laments the commandeering of American lands by European settlers. The biggest mistake they made with that song was putting it on the back of the single of “Hotel California”. It sounded terrible. It was just too long to fit well. “Hey Jude” barely fit on a 45 and it was only 7:10.
And speaking of “Hotel California”, we can’t forget the greatness of the opening title track. Nothing like a nice extended guitar duet at the end of the song.
I bought the vinyl LP not long after it came out and I learned later that what I thought was a problem with my stylus was actually a problem with the record! After the band took 8 months to record the album, maybe the label got a little careless with the pressing of the album.