Building The Perfect Beast
Geffen Records, 1984
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 06/10/1997
Now that MTV has been around for well over a decade, we have seen many artists who have benefitted from the advent of the music video. Some of these artists were deserving of the attention this new media gave them, where they would otherwise have been ignored.
Other artists should drop to their knees and kiss MTV's butt for giving them success they did not deserve - albums which would have better been ignored.
Don Henley, for example, had carved out his place in rock history as the drummer and one of the vocalists for the Eagles, one of my favorite bands. While the band took an extended "vacation," Henley moved on to a dubious solo career. His second album, 1984's Building The Perfect Beast, is one depressing effort that rejects all the lessons learned with the Eagles.
The album became a hit with its first single and video, "The Boys Of Summer." Despite a robotic drum track, Henley does a fairly decent job on the remainder of the track, and has held its own well over a decade since its release.
But the follow-up single, "All She Wants To Do Is Dance," is a tremendous waste of CD technology. Again, we hear a robotic beat, only this time the vocal and remainder of the backing track follows exactly the same pattern. Henley must have had one nasty case of writer's block when he knocked this one out.
It only gets worse. "Man With A Mission" is a pale effort at high-speed 12-bar blues that is a difficult listen. And, while the title suggested a real interesting track, "You're Not Drinking Enough" is not a well-written or performed track that has none of the humor I would have expected.
In fact, most of the songs on Building The Perfect Beast suffer from exactly the same fate. The title track is a disappointment, as is "Drivin' With Your Eyes Closed," as is... oh, what's the use of rattling off almost every song on this disc?
The best performance on the album comes on "A Month Of Sundays," a track highlighted by the piano and synthesizer work and Henley's vocals, which actually sound in place here. The fade-in to "Sunset Grill" almost seems natural, and makes the track better than it sounded on its own on the radio.
Henley would end up taking a breather from his solo career, and though he would still hit a few speed bumps along the road, the time off would do his songwriting quite a bit of good. However, Building The Perfect Beast is a tremendous waste of time.