On this day in music history: December 8, 1976…

On this day in music history: December 8, 1976 – “Hotel California”, the fifth album by the Eagles is released. Produced by Bill Szymczyk, it is recorded at Criteria Studios in Miami, FL and The Record Plant in Los Angeles, CA from March – October 1976. Having scored their greatest success to date with the album “One Of These Nights”, the Eagles are more than aware of the pressure to come up with a strong follow up. Recording begins in L.A. in March of 1976, before moving to Miami, with the band traveling back and forth between the two cities during the months spent writing and recording. “Hotel California” is a concept album reflecting on themes of the hedonistic 70’s lifestyle, using “California” as a metaphor for the entire country. The title track begins as an instrumental demo written by guitarist Don Felder, who then shows it to Don Henley and Glenn Frey. Intrigued by the unique hybrid, sounding like a cross between Spanish flamenco music and reggae, Henley and Frey write the lyrics and melody to Felder’s music. With the song designated the album’s centerpiece, the others fall into place around it. In pursuit of perfection, the tension intensifies, particularly between Felder, Henley and Frey, when Felder presses them to sing lead on “at least two cuts”. Specifically, Felder insists on being allowed to sing lead on the song “Victim Of Love”, which he has written the music for. After several attempts at recording a suitable lead vocal, the others decide that it is better for Henley to sing it instead, causing bad feelings between Felder and the others. In spite of this, the sessions continue until it is completed in the Fall of 1976. It is the band’s most successful album spinning off three singles including “New Kid In Town” (#1 Pop), “Life In The Fast Lane” (#11 Pop) and the title track (#1 Pop). Original vinyl copies come packaged in a gatefold jacket with a poster taken by photographer Norman Seeff. The original vinyl pressings also come with custom labels of the album’s title logo. The phrase “Is It 6 O’Clock Yet?” is etched into the runout groove of side one, and “V.O.L. Is Five-Piece Live” etched into the runout of side two. Regarded as a definitive 70’s album, it is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2008. Remastered and reissued on CD in 1999, it is also issued as a DVD-A disc, featuring a new 5.1 surround mix remixed by Elliot Scheiner. It is also reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP in 2009, replicating the original packaging including the inner sleeve and poster. To commemorate the album’s 40th anniversary, it is reissued as a two CD deluxe edition. The first disc contains the original nine song album, with disc two featuring live concert performances recorded at The Forum in Inglewood, CA on October 20-22, 1976. “Hotel California” spends eight weeks (non-consecutive) at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 16x Platinum in the US by the RIAA, earning a Diamond Certification.