This incredibly fascinating documentary charts the history of the Los Angeles music scene during the so called golden age of singer-songwriters in the 1970s. Starting in the late 60s with bands such as The Byrds and Buffalo Springfield and ending with the success of The Eagles in the late 70s, “Hotel California: LA from The Byrds to The Eagles” explores how one city became the new melting pot for music in the United States and the home of the music industry (which lasts today) replacing New York. During this period the city drew hundreds of budding musicians from all over the U.S. as well as Canada to its to rolling canyons and busy strips in the hope of carving out a successful music career. The film focuses on all the key players during this period including Crosby Stills and Nash, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne, and The Eagles and gives a significant insight into what happens when coke, money, and success combine to create an age of excess within the music industry that lasted the decade. “Hotel California” does a good job in utilising new interviews with the main players including musicians, producers, and music moguls alike, and also includes some amazing archival footage from the time. A lot of people find the music of this period quite dull in comparison to the decade of music that proceeded it, and very much stylistically of the MOR (Middle of the Road) ilk to use one of those ridiculous musical acronyms. But this period did see some great music emerge amongst some of the duller stuff, including the release of classic albums such as “After the Gold Rush” and “Blue”. Although time limits don’t allow for everything to be looked at and considered, one criticism I would have of this documentary is that people like Randy Newman and Tom Waits who started their careers in L.A. in the early 1970s weren’t looked at. However, their absence from the film is just a minor blot on what is an otherwise brilliant examination of a fascinating and pivotal period in modern music history. This is when rock went corporate and the music industry became a mega business, a business that is now entrenched today in the form of a global music conglomerate. The 1960s party of idealism and free love was over as the me decade descended down upon all; it was now money, money, money, and more money with the practitioners (the musicians) unselfishly buying into it big time. “Hotel California” is very much worth a look for those into music history, the music of the 1970s, and even the casual documentary watcher.
Check it out (floats around on YouTube).