There are very few 1970's era proshot videos available from The Eagles in their heyday, and while I won't pretend to be a Linda Ronstadt authority - I dare say there can't be many available from her from the 70's either. So right away when this release was announced, I was pretty eager to check it out. After all, now the boss mentor was opening for the proteges. And The Eagles were hot out of the blocks with a line-up change that proved to be the magic move in bringing former James Gang-founder and guitarist, Joe Walsh into the family for the exiting Bernie Leadon. This is pre-Hotel California and what could be wrong with all of this? Let's just say it didn't live up to my expectations but the disappointment isn't crushing either.
The quality of the video itself after we get into the show a good 15 minutes or so, is comparable to the Led Zeppelin Seattle '77 in house video feed that has circulated for along time. The earlier iterations more so than the lower gen sources/remastered efforts of 2006. So it's pretty good but again the lighting is an issue at times but not as dark as the Zep video from the Kingdome. The audio is also of like quality, without any atmosphere at all but some intense hissing and buzzing at the start of Ronstadt's set - then mostly just a constant hissing throughout the show. Even Linda comments during her performance that it's like a constant loud air conditioner. There is also a cut in the Linda Ronstadt set right after "Silver Threads And Golden Needles" and a brutal cut that chops the first half of "Take It To The Limit" during the Eagles set, which is a bit annoying. I should mention that at the beginning of both sets we have quite a bit of tracking issues with the tape that eventually smooths itself out but is quite prevalent for a time. At the end of the Ronstadt segment, which runs about 51 minutes, the videotape gets offtrack and the audio gets all slurred up. During the Eagles set, there is a timer at the bottom center of the screen too, but it's not that intrusive.
The performances couldn't be more of a contrast. I was really surprised and a bit bummed at how overwhelmed or nervous Linda Ronstadt comes off in this show. I suppose the sheer magnitude of The Kingdome and 70,000 people could do it to you!...but she is a seasoned performer and she just comes off as lost or not confident in the situation. Very odd. It doesn't help that her music isn't really suited for this setting either, it's just not working on any level that I can tell. J.D Souther plays guitar with her on this outing, who is of course a long-time collaborator to Eagles Glenn Frey and Don Henley in the songwriting department. So, it's really a family affair here.
The Eagles set has to be one of their best, from a very basic Rock And Roll level. The influence of Joe Walsh to the mix and the chemistry of the new line-up is precious and fresh. Walsh and Don Felder absolutely rip some amazing leads right out of the chute during "Take It Easy" which establishes the tone for the evening. The boys are zeroed in and in a fine mood tonight with every tune being as good as you've ever heard them perform. The irony to the beefed up guitar sound to the band at this juncture is that the real highlight of the set is the acoustic 5-throat harmony of "Seven Bridges Road". A classic flawlessly performed and you totally believe that is the highlight for the band every night too. That brings us to the really unfortunate cut into "Take It To The Limit". The steam is kind of let out of the Kingdome video experience at this point and the rest of the show solid but a bit forgettable. It's too bad there isn't a better soundboard to synch up to this and enhance the document a bit. What is here is alright but begs for an infusion of life. Perhaps that's why the simple "Seven Bridges Road" is such a standout too. It's simple and doesn't rely on the fidelity of the instruments.
Our generic label producers did add some bonus videos onto the disc for some added value. We get the familiar live promotional video for "Hotel California" which I love but sounds horrible here but the video is quality is great. The promos for both "The Long Run" and "In The City" are included here - all 3 clips taken from somebody's tapes of early 90's Vh-1 - but the latter two videos are both cut badly almost right in the middle of the songs! Surely these could have been procured in better and more complete quality! I could have helped with those pieces! So while they're a nice addition - the gesture is botched. The redeeming factor here is the now common but no less enjoyable version of "Take It Easy" from the 1973 Don Kirshner's Rock Concert appearance.
The packaging is simple but effective, and appropriate for the material presented. The DVD comes in a clear DVD Clamshell with double printed color insert artwork - the front and back covers are featured above. The inner sleeve is a shot of The Eagles members lounging on the deck of a yacht and is a two-panel spread when you open up the case. The disc is nothing special with royal blue screenprinting with "The Kingdome" labeled on there along with the catalog number of Cal-002. But it IS a silver disc production and it's previously unreleased footage we can add to the shelf. The appeal here is going to be the newly beefed up 1976 Eagles in proshot quality which is quite a place in time to have the cameras rolling. The only other document available from this era is the Houston '76 (marketed as 1977) proshot that is of much better quality but is from The Hotel California Tour that took place 5-6 months later in the year. I think you'll enjoy this one for what it is too.