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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Driving With Your Eyes Closed.
The Eagles are obviously considered a classic band. That said, Don Henley is the brightest, most original member of that band as a solo artist. He has only released three studio cds since 1982, and all of them are excellent recordings. His latest, Otherwise, is due in about a month, and I, like other fans, have waited 11 long years for this. Building the Perfect Beast...
Published on March 20, 2000 by Jason Stein

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mix of excellent and not-so-great.
This album has his best work on it, the 3 big hits certainly testify to that. They are superbly written and arranged. Some of the other songs, like You Cant Make Love, are well written, but sound pretty schlocky. The others are just plain bad. Lots of filler on this album, I'd go with the greatest hits collection instead.
Published on June 25, 1999


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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Driving With Your Eyes Closed., March 20, 2000
By 
Jason Stein (San Diego, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Building the Perfect Beast (Audio CD)
The Eagles are obviously considered a classic band. That said, Don Henley is the brightest, most original member of that band as a solo artist. He has only released three studio cds since 1982, and all of them are excellent recordings. His latest, Otherwise, is due in about a month, and I, like other fans, have waited 11 long years for this. Building the Perfect Beast (BTPB), is, I think, his best recording to date. Why? Well, aside from the hits "Boys of Summer", "All She Wants To Do Is Dance", "Not Enough Love In The World", "Driving With Your Eyes Closed" and "Sunset Grill" it has great album tracks like "Man With A Mission", "A Month of Sundays", "Land Of The Living", "Building The Perfect Beast" and "You're Not Drinking Enough." All the eleven tracks come together to form a classic cd. The recording quality and choice of instruments is excellent. It still sounds fresh 16 years later. The lyrics and music work together to form a more cohesive cd than 1982's I Can't Stand Still. While 1989's The End of the Innocence is probably more mature and refined than BTPB, BTPB has more edge to it, and possibly a fresher sound overall. I think any rock collector should not only have The Eagles, but should also have all three Henley (soon to be four) cds. However, if you only have money for one, Building the Perfect Beast is the one to own.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Light California rock shows Henley has solo potential, December 2, 2003
This review is from: Building the Perfect Beast (Audio CD)
Of the ex-Eagles doing solo material, I so far have only gotten Don Henley's second solo album, Building The Perfect Beast. He gets a lot of help from guitarist Danny Kortchmar in music, songwriting, and keyboards. This is a nice exercise in light rock that still has hallmarks of the mellow California sound popularized by his ex-bandmates the Eagles, J.D. Souther, Karla Bonoff, and Linda Ronstadt. Even though Glenn Frey had more notable hits than him, Don Henley's reputation is more intact, as Frey meandered into poppy soundtrack music that alienated his old crowd.
"The Boys Of Summer" having been covered recently by DJ Sammy and AFI, makes me appreciate the original all the more. I mean an oontsa-oontsa remix or a punk cover clearly can never capture the wistful pain of trying to forget a lost time on the beach.
Another variation on the wealth not being able to buy love is told on the leisurely "You Can't Make Love" featuring Lindsey Buckingham on guitar and harmonies and the HeartbreakersEBenmont Tench on keyboards. There's an added dimension to the theme, that one can make a promise and walk down an aisle, and "make a life for her that fits like a glove" but--you get the idea.
The rocking "Man With A MissionEwith a 50's rock-and-roll sound, of someone out to have a rowdy partying time, such as running a few red lights, starting some fist fights, drinking a few beers. I was surprised this didn't make it on the Fast Times At Ridgemont High soundtrack, because thematically, this would fit. Charlie Sexton helps on guitar, as does Belinda Carlisle on harmonies.
"You're Not Drinking Enough" has a trace of the country rock that popularized the Eagles. The idea here is trying to forget a woman and if "you still wanna hold her/you must not be drinkin' enough." The way he writes how men get stomped caught my eye: "She passed on your passion/and stepped on your pride/turns out you ain't quite so tough."
"Not Enough Love In The World" is a timely song that has shades even today. "I know people hurt you bad/they don't know the damage they can do, and it makes me sad/how we knock each other down just like children on a playground."
The tribal drums and chants of the title track is a jab at creating the ultimate person with motifs of the gods of Olympus and Methuselah. "Relieve all pain and suffering and lift us out of the dark/turn us all into Methuselah/But where are we gonna park?Eis a cheekily humorous question to the age old quest for immortality. Patty Smyth, J.D. Souther, and Martha Davis of the Motels contribute to the chants.
The fuzzy bass synth in "All She Wants To Do Is Dance" makes this one of the most familiar songs by ear on the radio. Martha Davis and Patty Smyth help out here again.
The tearful "A Month Of Sundays" is by far the best song here, on the reflections of a farmer now on hard times, a familiar sight during the Reagan era. The generation gap is shown with the more left of center grandson and the son-in-law, a Vietnam veteran who's dismissive: "That little punk, he never had to serve" The last few verses alone make a melancholy sunset.
"Sunset Grill" is a social commentary on the mean city and the soul-draining effects it has. The subject here wants to leave, but here's the tragic joke: "What would we do without all these jerks anyway? Besides, all our friends are here."
Henley gets a lot of help from varied musicians, such as some Heartbreakers, a woman from a Motel, and a woman who causes a Scandal. The light style rock does still give out that peaceful easy feeling of his former band, but his solo album shows he was the lynchpin of the Eagles.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much more than just another '80s record., August 6, 2001
By 
Themis-Athena (from somewhere between California and Germany) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Building the Perfect Beast (Audio CD)
Songwriting is no trifle matter to Don Henley. And although in the early 1970s the magic duo of Henley/Frey churned out hits with enough speed to allow for the production of four albums in four years, followed by an all-time best-selling Greatest Hits (Vol. 1) album even before the release of the Eagles' classic "Hotel California," he started to take things considerably slower in his post-Eagles solo career. The two years he took to follow up 1982's "I Can't Stand Still" with "Building the Perfect Beast" were actually the shortest time between any two of his solo albums; in part due to the fact that, as Henley explained, his collaboration with Danny "Kootch" Kortchmar worked along lines different from those he had established with Glenn Frey in the Eagles. These were not two guys sitting down together in a room with a guitar and a drum kit any longer: For Don Henley's second solo release, bowing to the musical developments of the 1980s, they relied heavily on synthesized sounds (Henley's tour promoting the album even featured an elaborate light show, something that would have been inconceivable for any of the Eagles' tours). And while making most of the songs on the album easily "listenable" and producing several top-selling singles ("All She Wants to Do Is Dance," "Sunset Grill," "Boys of Summer" and "Not Enough Love in the World"), that choice of instrumentation also seemed to render "Building the Perfect Beast" the most easily dateable of all of Henley's solo releases.

Lyrically, however, Henley had lost nothing of his bite; the album's very name is indicative of that fact. "We're the ones who can kill the things we don't eat," he warned in the title track, musically the edgiest song on the album (synthesizers or not) - "we have met the enemy, and he is us ... the secrets of eternity; we've found the lock and turned the key ... all the way to Malibu from the Land of the Talking Drum, just look how far we've come." "Sunset Grill" and "A Month of Sundays" lament the death of small mom-and-pop farms and businesses and their takeover by large corporations; a criticism of Reaganomics Henley would take up even more forcefully in 1989's "The End of the Innocence." (Ironically, his beloved Sunset Grill in L.A. later went down that very same path, too - "Don't Go There," he therefore quipped during the closing appearance of his recent "Inside Job" tour, "it ain't there anymore. Even though it still has the same name. Even though the guy has my name on the menu. Don't go there!") "All She Wants to Do Is Dance" has a similar theme, focusing on corporate and political greed in general. "The Boys of Summer," musically based on a guitar riff supplied by Heartbreaker Mike Campbell, is a warning not to look back and romanticize the past but rather, to look toward the future - just keep your eyes open whatever you do, though, because if you're Driving With Your Eyes Closed "you're gonna hit somethin' ... but that's the way it goes."

As on all of his solo releases, Henley was able to secure the collaboration of a virtual all-star cast of musicians, from Fleetwood Mac's Lindsey Buckingham and Heartbreakers Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench to Randy Newman, Patty Smyth, Belinda Carlisle, Richard and Waddy Wachtel, Toto's Steve Porcaro and David Paich, "inofficial Eagle" J.D. Souther, and many, many more. And despite the seeming bow to the 1980s' musical tastes in the instrumentation of many of the album's tracks, their lasting quality becomes apparent like on no other occasion when Henley performs them live, as he did on his recently-concluded tour. Stripped of some of their fancy effects, they stand up even more visibly to the class of his other work, both with the Eagles and solo - and you just have to have heard that stunning, several minutes' long drum/percussion intro (not even performed by Henley himself) to "All She Wants to Do Is Dance," the closing song of the tour's regular program.

"Building the Perfect Beast" cemented Don Henley's standing as a solo artist, and it paved the way for his biggest release to date, "End of the Innocence." As he had done with his bandmates a decade earlier, Henley again proved that he was able to create something lasting, in whatever format he chose. Maturity added more focus to his work (lyrically if nowhere else); and vocally, many of the tracks on this album are among the most demanding he has ever written. Unlike the output of the era's countless hair bands, disco kings and queens and punk bands, all of Don Henley's first three solo releases still have a large enough audience to warrant their inclusion in the catalogue of every major record store - including the seemingly so 1980s-sounding "Building the Perfect Beast."

Also recommended:
The End of the Innocence
Don Henley Live - Inside Job
The Eagles - Hell Freezes Over
Selected Works: 1972-1999
Hotel California
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The crown jewel in Henley's catalog., April 20, 2003
By 
This review is from: Building the Perfect Beast (Audio CD)
While his follow-up album, "The end of the innocence" was a mammoth success, selling 6 million copies, Arguably "Building the perfect beast" is the better album. Don Henley would soon delve into a more Adult Contemporary sound, This album captures him at his best, before that phase.
Don Henley recruited an all-star cast of guests to play on "Building the perfect Beast". Among them are from Tom Petty's band: guitarist Mike Campbell, keyboardist Ben Tench, and drummer Stan Lynch. Fleetwood Mac's Lindsey Buckingham plays guitar on a few tracks, and The Go-Go's Belinda Carlisle does some back-up vocals. Don Henley was quite prolific at the time to pull in all these names [either that or he had a deep Wallet ;) ]
A few fans have slagged the sound of this album, saying "it sounds so 80's". That was the decade I was born in! I'm personally a junkie for the 80's, I love Synthesizers, go ahead, Chastise all you want! But I digress.
The big hits here were "Boys of Summer", "All she wants to do is Dance" and "Sunset grill". You've probably heard them all once or twice, so I won't waste time commenting, to sum it up, those songs are amazing, but the lesser known tracks are equally strong.
Opener "Boys of Summer" is forever etched in my head, growing up around that time I used to only recognize the chorus and thought the song was about Baseball-Bys of Summer, NOT the case, it's actually much deeper, telling the story of an acquaintance Don lost touch with. The music is amazing, words can't describe. This is probably the best song of Don's entire solo career. Co-writer Mike Campbell deserves credit where it's due
Not to be outdone, the rest of the album is equally strong (like I said before, sorry for the redundance.) I'll walk you through it, track-by-track.
"You can't make love" boasts a pleasant guitar lick and catchy synth line.The song is basically about how someone can do all sorts of grand things, even get married, except what the title says.
"Man with a mission" is a nice Rock-a-billy throwback. The lyrics are from some guy's "Typical day in the life of" perspective, was it Don Henley? Who knows? Great song though regardless.
Next up is the incredible ballad-"You're not drinking enough", which is on par with the Eagles best work. It's about a guy who's so tense, going through drama with his girlfriend and as a suggestion should take a lil' dip in the sauce.
"Not enough love in the world" kicks off with an almost soulful riff. Don plays the drums, returning to his day job. The lyrics are heartfelt and sincere.
Next were on to the B-Side [That's old lingo for you kiddies keeping score, I'll explain it some other time ;) ] The underrated title track is all out fun. It has a bouncy rhythm, and engaging Synth line, and a superb chorus. Beneath the playfulness is Don's genuine concern that through greed and for profit, beautiful land is destroyed, in the name of a parking lot.
The undeniable feel good track is "All she wants to do is dance", it contains another relevant theme even today. So much ill in the world and the girl's desire is what the title suggests. Writing the song Don probably didn't have problems with the girl per se, but the problems out there can't be overlooked.
"Sunset Grill" follows. A lengthy track clocking in at 6 minutes 22 seconds, there's not one dull moment. I still can't decipher what it's about. The guitar winds and there's great use of keyboards, and the use of horns was creative.
"Drivin with your eyes closed" is a personal favorite of mine. A terrific guitar hook hauls you in. The words describes a meeting with a French guy and how their cultures seem worlds apart, The Frenchman saying the U.S seems too materialistic, honestly that does seem the case sometimes.
Closing off the album is the more mellow "Land of the living". Well-Crafted, a shame it wasn't released as a single.
I was actually listening to the album while I wrote this review, and it brings back fine memories. In my humble opinion, "Building the perfect beast" is the crown jewel of one of music's most notable careers and belongs in everyone's collection.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best solo DH yet!, April 23, 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Building the Perfect Beast (Audio CD)
Those people giving this a "so-so" rating on here must not know what they're talking about. This is the BEST post-Eagles Henley album there is. No collection is complete without it. To those who think this has sappy or "filler" songs on it - spend your money from now on on just cd singles. You'll be much happier. You have no musically artistic tastes.
I originally bought this on cassette when it first came out. A few years after that, I deemed this worthy of replacing with the CD version and it will always stay in my CD collection, along with all the other CD's I bought from the 80's and '70's re-releases.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Henley Soars, August 24, 2000
This review is from: Building the Perfect Beast (Audio CD)
With Building The Perfect Beast, Don Henley released an album that was his most bitingly critical and cynical album to date. The album is a commentary on the baby boomers, who in the 60's were the counterculture, but where now the mainstream yuppies in the Reagan-era 80's. There is alot of commentary on the Reaganomics mentallity of greed is good. He takes on his adopted home state of California in numerous songs. In the title cut, Henley comments that back in the 60's, California was a place of rebellion, trying to build social change, but now it was a place trying to build the perfect money making machine. "Man With A Mission" is about the seemingly singlemindness of the country to succeed at any and all costs. "Drivin' With Your Eyes Closed" is a veiled commentary on how he felt Reagan was running the country. The big hit single "Boys Of Summer" is a lament about trying to recapturing the past, but knowing things will never be the same again. "All She Wants To Do Is Dance" talks about the bad things going on down in Central America, but our country's lack of care as things are too good here. Not everything is politically charged like the country-blues sounds of "You're Not Drinking Enough", the moody "Sunset Grill & the pretty "Not Enough Love In The World", but they are critical in nature. The album is one of the defining releases of the 80's as it employs a very contempary sound with alot of synthesisers and drum machines, but since the songs are so great, it a timeless release and the apex of Don Henley's solo career.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don Henley makes a great solo album!, December 19, 2004
By 
Paul HItch "HItchy" (Kununurra, Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Building the Perfect Beast (Audio CD)
Don Henley is truly a great singer, and this album does not dissappoint.

He definitely has his own style. This has some absolute gems on it.

" The Boys of Summer" is a classic all time song. The perfect hit song that is timeless.

" Sunset Grill" is also great and " Driving with your eyes closed"

This is a mainstream album, and many music fans would enjoy Henleys work

Top music!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don's Most Solid Album, January 30, 2000
By 
Mike S (Front Royal,Virginia United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Building the Perfect Beast (Audio CD)
Building The Perfect Beast was at the peak of music technology for 1984 and still sounds excellent today. Sunset Grill and Boys of Summer will live on as 80's all time rock classics. Don's lite rock is just as good as his hard rock songs. Don always has great studio musicians backing him and has an all star lineup here. Danny Korchmar's guitar playing rocks throughout the CD. David Paich and Michael Boddiker do excellent work on the synthesizers; especially on Sunset Grill. Every song is good, if not great on this album, plus Henley's lyrics always make his recordings worth a listen.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Don Henley Album - One of the Best Albums of the 1980s, November 21, 2003
By 
S. Heffer "argon78" (West Babylon, NY United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Building the Perfect Beast (Audio CD)
One day during the summer of 1985, on one of my occasional jaunts to the local strip mall to buy records, I obtained two albums by former Eagles members - "The Allnighter" by Glenn Frey, and this album by Don Henley. Interestingly enough, I had never really listened to the Eagles (sure I'd heard "Take It Easy" and "Hotel California", but it was only on the radio when I was much younger and I didn't even know who had done them...) and did not know that both of these artists had been in what I would soon discover was an amazing band. Of the two albums I bought, this was by far the better one and it became a part of my regular listening rotation even into the 1990s.
There are so many good songs on this album - they fit together to form a cohesive whole while at the same time each stands on its own individually. I don't think there is one song on this album that I don't really like except perhaps (and maybe ironically), the title track. Standouts range from the beautiful, longing and urgent "Boys of Summer", to the pretty "Not Enough Love In the World" and "Land Of The Living", to the songs that rock out "All She Wants To Do Is Dance" (complete with sarcastic, cynical political overtones) and "Drivin' With Your Eyes Closed". But to me, the highlight of the album are the two songs which segue into each other on what used to be side 2 of the album - these are "A Month Of Sundays" which is a heartfelt and heart-tugging glimpse at the struggles of farmers hit during the glut of farm foreclosures which were taking place in the mid-1980s. This beautiful, sad song relaxes into the cool, jazzy "Sunset Grill", which for some reason evokes Los Angeles to my mind....
At any rate, to sum up - this album brings out a wide range of emotions through really well played, well conceived songs. There are pretty songs and songs that rock on this album. An unusually solid blend of great lyrics and great music that plants images in your head and induces contemplation...Just what music is supposed to do...HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Very Good Album, December 25, 2000
By 
This review is from: Building the Perfect Beast (Audio CD)
Another excellent album from Don Henley. As usual with his albums, the quality of the songs is uniformly high, the only one I don't like is the closing track, Land of the Living. It's evident from the start of the album that it was made in the 80's. The excellent opening track, The Boys of Summer, along with most of the rest of the album, is synth-driven, in a manner that is distinctly early 80's. But thankfully, Don Henley is not Phil Collins so we don't get some outdated garbage when we play this album now. The lyrics especially have stood the test of time. Tracks like The Boys of Summer and the highly underrated and supremely touching A Month of Sundays evoke Henley's trademark lyrical imagery (i.e. "that dark desert highway song". Also we get politically charged songs like Drivin' With Your Eyes Closed and All She Wants To Do Is Dance (whose lyrics were apparently actually written by Danny Kortchmar) that are extremely thought-provoking. And, as always with Henley, there are a handful of non-cliched songs that deal with human relationships and love. The most notable of those included here are Not Enough Love In The World and the satratic You're Not Drinking Enough. Another one of the album's main lyrical themes is the mass commercialization of America and the death of small business, which manifests itself most notably on A Month of Sundays and Sunset Grill (the latter being especially ironic considering the present state of the Sunset Grill). If you're not looking for an album that hits home with the current musical trends and/or are a fan of honest and good lyrics then you could definately do worse than picking up a copy of Don Henley's Building The Perfect Beast.
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Building the Perfect Beast
Building the Perfect Beast by Don Henley (Audio CD - 1990)
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