Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Don Henley

  • I Can't Stand Still [Asylum, 1982] B+
  • Building the Perfect Beast [Geffen, 1984] B
  • The End of the Innocence [Geffen, 1989] C+
  • Actual Miles: Henley's Greatest Hits [Geffen, 1995] Dud
  • Inside Job [Warner Bros., 2000] C-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

I Can't Stand Still [Asylum, 1982]
Makes sense that Henley's candid self-involvement should prove of more intrinsic interest than Glenn Frey's covert self-pity, but nobody capable of the distinction figured it would get as interesting as this. If there were anything to actually like about the guy, his complaints and revelations might even be moving. As it is, let's call them strong--like primo tequila, or the smell of an old jockstrap. B+

Building the Perfect Beast [Geffen, 1984]
This one makes you listen--its abrupt shapes and electro/symphonic textures never whisper Eagles remake. So thank cocomposer, multi-instrumentalist, and occasional arranger Danny Kortchmar, whose "You're Not Drinking Enough" (Merle Haggard, call your agent) and "All She Wants to Do Is Dance" (T-Bone Burnett, ditto) are at once the simplest and most effective songs on the record. Then blame the turgid lengths, tough-guy sensitivity, and "women are the only works of art" on the auteur, who still thinks perfect love is when you're crazy and she screams. B

The End of the Innocence [Geffen, 1989]
Bitch bitch bitch, bloat bloat bloat. Six of 10 tracks run over five minutes, and not 'cause he's building a groove, although the anti-ripoff "Gimme What You Got" does appropriate a JB riff, which I guess is ironic, or totally unconscious. Nope, Don wants drama and plenty of it--seven of 10 instrumental intros are 30 seconds plus, with three up around an L.A. minute (as distinguished from a "New York Minute," 'cause Don says your life can change in one of those). Theme: "This brave new world/Gone bad again." (Again?) Solution: love--only don't blame him if it falls through. C+

Actual Miles: Henley's Greatest Hits [Geffen, 1995] Dud

Inside Job [Warner Bros., 2000]
On his last album, in CD-cusp 1989, six out of 10 tracks ran over five minutes; on this one, it's nine out of 13, with two others clocking in at 4:49 and 4:50. Since my own suspicions have been on record since the Eagles conquered the air, believe my formerly sympathetic California buddy Greil Marcus in Salon: "While it's well known that as one gets older, one tends to find changes in the world at large unsettling, confusing, fucking irritating, a rebuke to one's very existence, it's generally not a good idea to make a career out of saying so." C-