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Articles Home » 1983 Articles » Felder, Don - 1983 Airborne
Felder, Don - 1983 Airborne

ARTIST: Felder, Don
ALBUM: Airborne
LABEL: Asylum
SERIAL: 9 60295-1
YEAR: 1983
CD REISSUE: 1996, Elektra, 7559-60295-2 * 2002, Wounded Bird, WOU 6295


LINEUP: Don Felder - guitar, synthesizers, vocals * Nathan East, George Perry, George Hawkins - bass * Carlos Vega, Tris Imboden, Joe Vitale, Russ Kunkel - drums * Jeff Lorber - keyboards

TRACK LISTING: 01 Bad Girls * 02 Winners * 03 Haywire * 04 Who Tonight * 05 Never Surrender * 06 Asphalt Jungle * 07 Night Owl * 08 Still Alive


Don Felder will always be known for his lengthy stint with The Eagles, having played guitar for them from 1973 until their first split in 1982, and then from their 1994 reunion until his unceremonious sacking in 2000. It was this first split in 1982 that forced Felder into recording his debut solo album, 'forced' because he didn't want The Eagles to disband in the first place, with only Glenn Frey wanting to end the band. Felder waited for two years to record 'Airborne' in the hope that The Eagles might resolved their differences, but when this failed to materialise he reluctantly engineered his own project at the insistence of manager Irving Azoff, and primarily because Felder missed recording. Thankfully the results were worth waiting for, with 'Airborne' first rate AOR with a heavy edge, and making many realise who was responsible for so many of The Eagles more memorable guitar work.

The Songs
I was thankful to run into this album, as having heard Felder's contribution to the 'Fast Times At Ridgemont High' soundtrack, 'Never Surrender', I was surprised at the AOR direction, having expected a country rock sound more associated with his past outfit. Opener 'Bad Girls' erases those notions further, with prime raunch in the riffs and the stunning chorus. Felder might have resented it, but this is very much what an Eagles album might have sounded like in 1983, simply through his distinctive axe work. 'Winners' is a high point, massive harmonies in the hook, pushing melody to the very brink. 1983 U.S. AOR is never better typified than this. More intense is 'Haywire', a moody rocker with an overall sense of drama and desperation through all melody lines. 'Who Tonight' is similar to 'The Long Run' era Eagles, an intense ballad, with a series of exciting chord changes, punctuated by well placed keyboards. 'Never Surrender' was the soundtrack cut, notable for Kenny Loggins standout background vocals, a fine anthem tailor made for such a teen film. Things take a downward turn, as 'Asphalt Jungle' drags with little purpose, as does 'Night Owl' which is too slow and lacking in the fervour of the first five tracks. 'Still Alive' puts things right, another slice of affecting AOR, although the verses dominate the eventual chorus.

In Summary
This would be Felder's only solo effort as he made the rounds guesting on albums by artists like Joe Walsh, Stevie Nicks, Bob Seger and Robin Zander amongst others. Sadly Felder shied away from the limelight, keeping a low profile until The Eagles reformed in 1994. This is a shame, as 'Airborne' contains material superior to what Glenn Frey and Don Henley were releasing in the 80's. It must have come as a shock to Felder to be dumped from a band he had spent so long as a part of then in 2000, Felder taking the matter to court claiming unfair dismissal. He might have a case, considering he was allegedly given no reason. 'Airborne' is however available on CD thanks to the good folk at Wounded Bird Records (released July 2002), and should be obtained without hesitation.

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#1 | englandashes on August 15 2009 11:21:46
Just finished reading Don Felder's book 'Heaven and Hell', interesting view of his life with The Eagles, and his relationship with 'The Gods', Henley and Frey. Actually more interested aspects was his description of his life growing up in the US, from a pretty poor (in terms of money) beginning.
#2 | reyno-roxx on March 31 2013 18:38:25
I've just finished reading Don Felder's book and Frey, Henley and Irving Azoff don't come out of the whole thing smelling of roses, do they?
I agree, the book did hold far more interest for me too with regards to how Felder got into music and progressed to becoming a member of the Eagles in the first place and he certainly pays great tribute to his ex wife throughout. Deservedly so.
As for the album. Loved it. Have yet to pick up his long awaited follow up though.
#3 | gdazegod on May 17 2014 00:41:29
Don Felder finally got around to releasing his long overdue second album 'Road To Forever'. It came out in 2012 on the Rocket Science label, and apparently has similarities to The Outlaws.
#4 | jeffrey343 on May 17 2014 04:05:11
I'll have to track this one down, as it seems promising. There are a couple of smooth jazz legends on board with Jeff Lorber and Nathan East. I've been listening to a good amount of smooth jazz this week while working, and Nathan East has a new song in heavy rotation.
#5 | gdazegod on May 17 2014 04:48:57
I've been playing this one today. It's pretty good. Very 80's mind you, but good nonetheless. I don't think it's anything like The Eagles though..
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