Building The Perfect Beast Don Henley
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- 1The Boys Of Summer04:50
- 2You Can't Make Love03:33
- 3Man With A Mission02:45
- 4You're Not Drinking Enough04:41
- 5Not Enough Love In The World03:54
- 6Building The Perfect Beast05:01
- 7All She Wants To Do Is Dance04:30
- 8A Month Of Sundays04:29
- 9Sunset Grill06:20
- 10Drivin' With Your Eyes Closed03:37
- 11Land Of The Living03:23
Info for Building The Perfect Beast
Although the 1980s production values sound a bit dated, Don Henley's „Building The Perfect Beast“ is made up of 11 smartly written songs that stand the test of time. Henley's second solo endeavor, the release shows the various faces of the singer/songwriter, surrounded here by an excellent group of musicians, including longtime partner Danny Kortchmar.
From the rocking 'Man with a Mission' to the folk narrative 'Month of Sundays' to the country ballad 'You're Not Drinking Enough,' „Building The Perfect Beast“ is a record built upon variety. Two Henley hits are also found on this album, namely the steamy 'All She Wants to Do Is Dance' and the reflective, bittersweet 'The Boys of Summer,' the latter of which features some of the artist's finest lyrics, along with music by Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell.
„Bulding the Perfect Beast“ releases Henley from his old band's reputation. Damn near a perfect pop album - and a popular one to boot.' (Rolling Stone)
„His commercial breakthrough defined his solo formula with songs like 'The Boys of Summer' and 'All She Wants to Do Is Dance', which responded to political and romantic breakdowns.“ (AMG)
Don Henley, vocals, percussion, drums, keyboards, chant, harmony vocals
Danny 'Kootch' Kortchmar, organ, synthesizer, bass, guitar, percussion, keyboards, synthesizer guitar
Lindsey Buckingham, guitar, backing vocals, harmony vocals
Mike Campbell, synthesizer, guitar, percussion
Charlie Sexton, guitar
Tim Drummond, bass
Pino Palladino, bass
Larry Klein, bass
Jim Keltner, drums
Ian Wallace, drums
Kevin McCormick, african drums
Randy Newman, synthesizer
David Paich, synthesizer, piano, keyboards
Steve Porcaro, synthesizer
Benmont Tench, synthesizer, piano, keyboards
Albhy Galuten, synthesizer, synclavier
Michael Boddicker, synthesizer
Bill Cuomo, synthesizer, percussion
Jerry Hey, horns
Belinda Carlisle, backing vocals, harmony vocals
Michael O'Donahue, backing vocals, chant
Patty Smyth, backing vocals, chant, harmony vocals
Waddy Wachtel, backing vocals, chant
J.D. Souther, backing vocals, chant
Martha Davis, backing vocals, chant, harmony vocals
Marie-Pascale Elfman, backing vocals, ensemble
Carla Olson, backing vocals, chant
Dominique Mancinelli, backing vocals, ensemble Sam Moore, harmony vocals
Recorded in 1984 at Studio Record One, Sherman Oaks, Bill Schnee Studio, Universal City, The Villa, North Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA
Engineered and mixed by Greg Ladanyi
Engineered by Niko Bolas, Richard Bosworth, Tom Knox, Allen Sides
Produced by Danny Kortchmar, Greg Ladanyi
Ranked #73 in Rolling Stone's '100 Greatest Albums Of The 80s'
Born and raised in Texas (he attended North Texas State) Henley was taken under the wing of country superstar Kenny Rogers in 1970. Rogers encouraged him in the creation of his early band Shiloh and in California he teamed up with Glenn Frey as part of Linda Ronstadt’s backing band. That was the catalyst for forming The Eagles, once Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner were hired to complete a legendary quartet. Henley and Frey assumed a major controlling interest in the band’s development – operating under the theory that a benevolent dictatorship would accomplish far more than a full fledged democracy, and Don’s methodical raping vocal style and underrated drumming underpinned everything from ‘Desperado’ and ‘Witchy Woman’ to the gloriously romantic ‘Best of My Love’ and its polar opposite ‘Hotel California’, a song which couldn’t really have been sung by anyone other than him.
Don’s debut solo album, the self-explanatory I Can’t Stand Still, was extremely well received. Tracks like ‘Dirty Laundry’ and ‘Johnny Can’t Read’ (a sideswipe against American educational standards) pleased critics and piqued public interest. But it was Building the Perfect Beast (1984) that persuaded everyone – here was an artist who was far more than an Eagle, let alone a drummer. The disc has sold over three million copies and established a brilliant partnership with Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers men Mike Campbell, Stan Lynch and Benmont Tench. The stand-out song ‘The Boys of Summer’ is a Henley/Campbell collaboration which won Don the Grammy Award for Best Male Vocal Performance in 1986 but it’s the startling lyrics about youth and mortality that make it so resonant. The lyrical reference to the Deadhead bumper sticker spotted on a Cadillac gave the number instant appeal to generations of listeners and wry as the observation was it also made a valid point about one time rebellion becoming a consumerist normality – albeit with a perfect up tempo rhythm offset by an entirely downbeat delivery. Stellar assistance on this classic album arrives via Lindsey Buckingham, bassist Tim Drummond, Jim Keltner’s kit and Jerry Hey’s moody horn parts but there are also surprise contributions from a fellow sardonic in Randy Newman (synthesiser) and the late great English drummer Ian Wallace, a member of Henley’s touring band.
Don follows that three years later with The End of the Innocence whose title track is another brilliantly conceived account of impending middle age. This time he colludes with pianist Bruce Hornsby (ironically then a member of The Grateful Dead) and the video is shot by the celebrated movie director David Fincher (Se7en, Fight Club) is startling black and white. The track ‘I Will Not Go Quietly’ (written with long time pal Danny Kortchmar) finds space for Axl Rose’s backing vocals, making it a collector’s piece, and the not to be overlooked gem ‘New York Minute’ has a slick apocalyptic arrangement augmented by Toto maestros David Paich and Jeff Porcaro: this has a distinctive whiff of Steely Dan about it. Other notables in the ranks are Edie Brickell, Valerie Carter, Sheryl Crow and Wayne Shorter, as well as those Heartbreakers. The End of the Innocence is a top-notch example of peerless West Coast rock cut though with acerbic lyrical wit.
Augmenting these two fabulous discs we have Actual Miles: Henley’s Greatest Hits (1995). Another Platinum affair this collates material from his first three solo discs and adds new tracks – ‘The Garden of Allah’ (a Hollywood Babylon epic on a par with his finest writing), ‘You Don’t Know Me at All’ and a superb cover of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Everybody Knows’ whose mordant lyrics reference everything from AIDS to social unrest and religious turmoil. All a far cry from The Eagles’ ‘Take it Easy’.
With Henley back in the driving and drumming seat with his parent group Inside Job (2000) was another well-received release but we point you towards The Very Best of Don Henley, available in a deluxe version that contains extra bonus audio and DVD. This came out in 2009 but it’s unlikely to be the last word on his idiosyncratic take regarding the American condition from Mr Henley. He remains one of the most insightful commentators on modern society viewed through a rock star’s eyes that we have. Turn up the Don Henley, the neighbours are listening. (Words: Max Bell, Source Universal Music)
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