Eagles Albums

The Eagles released 6 albums during their career, from Eagles in 1972 to The Long Run in 1979, plus two greatest hits collections and a live CD, aptly titled Eagles Live. In 1994, they released a reunion concert disc, titled Hell Freezes Over, which contained many of their more popular later tunes. I thought it would be a good idea to review each album (that I have) in order for you guys to see where I'm coming from musically and to see what to buy next. I hope some of you agree with me.

Eagles was the Eagles debut album. This album clearly shows the Eagles country-rock style and juxtaposes such acoustic songs as Peaceful Easy Feeling (Glenn on vocals) and Train Leaves Here This Morning (Bernie on vocals) with more electrified sings like Witchy Woman and Nightingale (Henley on vocals for both). The Eagles' first single, Take it Easy, opens the album. Most of the songs on this album are great songs, including all those that I mention above, but they seem a bit eclectic. Most of the songs on the album were written by the individual band members before the band got together and there are few collaboratory efforts. This gives a slightly different sound from the later Eagles albums, where Henley/Frey songs became common and the other members added their thoughts as well. Other songs on the album include a wonderful acoustic song by Glenn, Most of Us Are Sad, and Randy's Take the Devil and Tryin, and a Bernie/Randy effort in Earlybird. Overall, the songs on this album are great songs, and this album is wonderful if you liked the acoustic-country sound of the Desperado album.

Desperado was released in the spring of 1973 to a lack of critical acclaim. The album is built on the theme of the rise and fall of the legendary Doolin-Dalton gang of the American Wild West. The album has a lot of great parts, Doolin-Dalton and the title song among them, and the only low area is a rather redneck Twenty-One (a Leadon contribution which should have stayed on the farm). Tequila Sunrise is one of my favorites, a laid-back country ballad which has some tremendous but subtle background electric guitar and banjo playing. It is my favorite song to play, and Frey's vocals are the epitome of great singing. Out of Control is a high-energy song that's great to listen to (except for the cheesy ending). Meisner also contributed two songs: Certain Kind of Fool, which is a decent, mostly acoustic song, and Saturday Night, with mandolins and Henley vocals combining to make a tremendous song. The highlight of the album, though, has to be the Doolin-Dalton/Desperado (reprise). It is one of those songs that just makes an impact on you every time you listen to it. This album is definitely still a country album, and is certainly worth looking into if you like acoustic songs, banjos, and early Eagles music. I can certainly say that it is my favorite Eagles album.

On the Border was released in the fall of 1974, and is in some ways the antithesis of Desperado. The songwriting is less solemn and showcases the talents of many outside musicians, from Jackson Browne to future Eagles guitar maestro Don Felder. This is probably one of the Eagles' best-sung albums. Don Henley and Glenn Frey take up most of the singing and add to it diverse unimitatable vocal styles. Henley does a wee bit of sensational gut spilling in You Never Cry Like A Lover and Best of My Love, but does not completely lose track of his love of rock-n-roll with On the Border (this song features Felder on some of his first and some of his best guitar playing with the band). Frey does some wicked country rock bits with Already Gone (featuring Frey and Felder on lead guitar doing some excellent rock riffs) and James Dean (co-written by Browne and J.D. Souther). Then as sort of a coming together, the two duet on Ol' 55 (a cover of an old Tom Waits ballad, this one brings a tear to my eye) and Good Day In Hell, another footstomper (yeehaw!). Randy Meisner gives two contributions, including Midnight Flyer (which I am not too happy with...it is two much of a redneck song [that old Nebrasky train stuff]). Bernie Leadon contributes a slight tear jerker with My Man (he sings those quite well, see I Wish You Peace). On the Border is the sort of album you take to a party, turn on and let run. The music is very well written and diversifies between fun and seriousness. This Eagles sound is pure.... untainted by the cynicism and hardened attitudes that come out in some of the later ones. These are songs by people who like to play music just for the sake of playing and having a good time doing it.
Thanks to Barbara Fraser for this review.

One of These Nights was released in summer of 1975, and went platinum soon afterward. It contains such hits as Lyin'Eyes, with some of the best country-rock guitar playing ever, One of These Nights, a rather disco-sounding song with a killer solo, Take it to the Limit, which is one of Randy's best songs ever, and Hollywood Waltz, which is the best acoustic song on the album. Felder (a new addition for this album) shows off his talent on Too Many Hands (another Meisner creation where Felder adds some absolutely incredible guitar work) and Visions (which Felder wrote himself) with some of his fastest, most accurate playing. Leadon adds a really neat instrumental banjo song from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, called Journey of the Sorcerer. The album is finished off by a slow ballad (written and sung by Leadon) called I Wish You Peace. This is my second favorite Eagles album, because it represents them as they were when they started, not what fame made them be. It's an incredible album and I think this is the one to buy.

Hotel California was released in 1977 to the complete enjoyment of critics and the public alike. The Eagles spent almost a year and a half working on this album, and the time and craftmanship is very apparent. Leadon left and Walsh entered for this album, and this marked the end of country in the Eagles style. Obviously the most recognized song on the album, Hotel California is an outstanding commentary on Southern California life in the mid-70's, and includes what I feel is the best, most emotional solo in any song ever written (that was a Walsh/Felder job). New Kid in Town also went to #1, and is a great song with Walsh on organ. Life in the Fast Lane, another Walsh addition, is one of my personal favorites, is the most rockin' song on the album and just kicks the whole way through. The album also contains some other rockers, namely Victim of Love and Try and Love Again, and three slow ballads: Wasted Time, one of my favorites; Pretty Maids All in a Row; and my favorite Eagles song, The Last Resort. This is one of the most critically acclaimed and highest-selling albums of all time, and it is a must.

The Long Run was released in the fall of 1979, and is what I feel the weakest Eagles effort by far. Meisner left to pursue a solo career, and was replaced by Schmit, a longtime member of Poco. There are many great songs, Heartache Tonight (with a great Felder slide guitar part), In the City (a rockin' Walsh tune with Walsh on the slide solo), King of Hollywood (a song about the movie industry with Henley and Frey sharing vocals and 3 great solos by Frey, Felder, and Walsh), and I Can't Tell You Why (Schmit on vocals and Frey with the guitar solo) among them, but interspersed throughout the album are such songs as The Disco Strangler, Teenage Jail, and The Greeks Don't Want No Freaks. These songs are nowhere near previous Eagles calibur, and should never have been associated with the Eagles name. I think this is one of the main reasons the Eagles broke up in 1982: Henley and Frey couldn't write songs together anymore. This album is great if you ignore about 4 songs, and the others are a quality effort, but combined, this album isn't the Eagles. The Sad Café is the best song on the album, it is dedicated to the memory of Joe Barrick and is Henley and Frey reminiscing about their days at the Troubador club in L.A. It has a great acoustic solo and David Sanborn on sax to end it. It is definitely a heart-saddening experience.

Eagles Live was the last Eagles album before the band's breakup in 1982. It was released in 1980, and features some of the Eagles best songs. Five songs were recorded on October 20-22, 1976 in the L.A. Forum, when Meisner was still a member, and the other ten songs were taped on July 27-31, 1980 at the Santa Monica Civic Aud, with Schmit on bass. Im my opinion, this album is much more energized and spontaneous than HFO, with better playing and singing, and the band seemed much more comfortable with each other. These guys are clearly out to have fun. A few outstanding moments on this two-disc collection include a pre-release version of Wasted Time, with Don doing the best performance I have yet heard, Meisner crooning Take it to the Limit, and Glenn doing a wonderfully charged rendition of Heartache Tonight. Others include Seven Bridges Road, with absolutely incredible four-part harmonies, and two by Joe Walsh: Life's Been Good, a good song which he murders on vocals, and All Night Long, a long-time Eagles encore piece which is also poorly sung, but rocks. Some great songs are also included which do not appear on HFO: Saturday Night, one of my favorites off Desperado, New Kid in Town, with co-writer J.D. Souther on acoustic and background vocals, and The Long Run, with a rockin' sax solo at the end. Combine that with favorites like Hotel California, Desperado, and Life in the Fast Lane, and you have one incredible album, with passionate vocals the whole way through and guitars from when the guys were used to playing together. This is a wonderful collection, perhaps better than HFO in the choice of songs, and is a definite must for all die-hard fans.

Hell Freezes Over was released in the fall of 1994 and produced a huge response from Eagles fans across the world (as is evidenced by this page) who had missed Eagles music for 14 years, and who had been tempted by reunion rumors for 6 years. The first four songs were new Eagles songs, and all are really great. The leadoff song, Get Over It, is a really rockin tune which, whether it does or does not sound like the Eagles attitude (I look at it more as Don Henley's cynicism), is a lot of fun and brings out a lot of (negative) emotion. Love Will Keep Us Alive, with Schmit on vocals, is a great soft love song. The Girl From Yesterday, written by Frey and Tempchin (read Peaceful Easy Feeling), is an old-Eagles country song, and is possibly the best new song. Learn to be Still is more Henley cynicism, but is another wonderful song. After these, the live show begins, showcasing many Eagles songs from late in their career and some early favorites. Wasted Time and The Last Resort are great piano songs and are two of the saddest Eagles songs ever. The most-talked about song on the album is the acoustic version of Hotel California, which I would argue is a poor substitute for the electric original, but many people feel it is the best song there. It does have a great intro, but somehow the acoustic solo doesn't have the feel of the original. Take it Easy and Tequila Sunrise are also featured, and the album is rounded out by a great version of Desperado. The Eagles show that they can still play with the best, and are still the most talented band out there. If you get a chance to catch one of their concerts in the future, do it, because you won't be disappointed! And buy this album, because it is a great anthology of the late Eagles.

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© 1997 Daniel E. Smith. Last updated 5-2-97.