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Hotel California: LA from The Byrds to The Eagles (2007)



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13 January 2007 (UK)  »

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Great little documentary that will work for the casual viewer as well as those that know a little more of the music and period
10 March 2007 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

From the 1960's till the end of the 1970's, Los Angeles found itself going from a non-entity in the musical world to the hub of the American music scene. This documentary charts that transformation, starting with the development of modern folk/rock music to the stadium excesses of the seventies including contributions from the likes of David Crosby, Graham Nash, David Geffen and others.

Based on Hoskyns' book of the same name (which I have not read) this documentary takes a skate through the music industry in LA in its formative years. Although I knew most of the artists and most of the songs, I could not tell you much about them beyond the actual tracks themselves, so I wasn't sure how I would find this documentary. Happily the answer was "very easily" because the documentary does a great job of moving easily though the music and the period and making it easy to understand and appreciate. The slight downside of this might be that if you are a music historian who lives and breathes this period then the film probably just smacks of superficiality. But for the casual viewer with a working knowledge of the artists, this is actually a pretty interesting and well developed history of the music and the period.

By this I mean that not only do you get a potted history of the various players in the scene (Geffen etc) but you also get a feel for how they also fit in and around the society of the period and how it changes. If it sounds clunky then I apologise because it never is and these aspects are all blended together really well. Of course what really helps the good range of archive footage and structure is a strong collection of contributions from those involved. Talking heads from Crosby, Geffen, Nash, Volman and others are rarely pointless and all of them are really well used and have something interesting to say each time they are used.

Overall then a great little documentary that will work for the casual viewer as well as those that know a little more of the music and period. It covers a lot of ground without feeling too rushed or basic, encompassing the music and the society and using some great contributions from a strong selection of the people involved.

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