Compelling enough to convert even non-fans of “Take It Easy” and other anti-activist ’70s hits, director Alison Ellwood’s epic docu “History of the Eagles — Part One” treats the 20th century’s bestselling American rock band in comprehensive fashion, even as “Part Two” nominally finishes the tale; both parts air in mid-February on Showtime. Vividly annotated pic records the evolution of the “Southern California sound” as the Eagles’ peaceful, easy feeling circa ’72 turns to life in the fast lane and then to heartache tonight. Treasure trove of archival material includes fabulous footage, onstage and backstage, from a 1977 D.C. gig.
“Part One” jogs through the lean early years of co-bandleaders Don Henley and Glenn Frey, hitting their stride when catching various junior Eagles on their way through the revolving door. Candid present-day interviews with former band members — one of whom shrewdly asserts that the group hit it big in the post-Vietnam era because “young people needed to feel that things were okay” — expose the myriad interpersonal tensions that ultimately grounded the Eagles in 1980. A vintage live performance of the immortal “Hotel California” highlights a fairly butt-kicking tech package.