Don Henley came to prominence as drummer, singer, and songwriter with legendary 1970s country-rockers the Eagles, who virtually defined the laid-back, West Coast pop/rock sound of their era. After the group split, the ever-cantankerous Henley toughened things up considerably with his solo work. He made a splash straight out of the gate with the wry social commentary of "Dirty Laundry" from his 1982 debut album. He went on to even greater acclaim with 1984's "Boys of Summer" and his landmark 1989 album, THE END OF THE INNOCENCE, an elegiac affair that did for the late '80s what the Eagles did for the '70s. Henley reunited with his Eagles pals in 1994 for the "Hell Freezes Over" tour. The band would continue to play together sporadically for the next decade.
Just as Don Henley's work with the Eagles in the 1970s chronicled a culture that was rapidly spinning out of control, his '80s output cataloged and criticized a decade of greed, cruelty, and prurient interest in the misfortune of others. But this is music, not journalism, and despite the overt seriousness of such songs as "Dirty Laundry," "All She Wants to Do Is Dance," "The Boys of Summer," and especially the somber, elegiac "The End of the Innocence," Henley's field reports were tuneful in the extreme. The two new tracks on Actual Miles--"The Garden of Allah" and "You Don't Know Me at All"--didn't quite click, but otherwise this greatest-hits package couldn't be more solid. --Daniel Durchholz
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