Friday, 13 September 2013

Eagles Studio Albums 1972 - 1979

Back in the spring of 1977, it seems you couldn’t turn a radio on anywhere without being subjected to ‘Hotel California’.  It was omnipresent on the airwaves for months and effectively cured me of ever wanting to delve into the Eagles back catalogue, ever.  So what is this box set I see before me?  Lo, it is the newly released ‘The Eagles: The Studio Albums 1972-1979’.  And it is here because a) it was cheap, and b) I’m curious to know what all the fuss is about since I’ve not listened to most of their output until now.

Not being a particular fan of The Eagles, I have only ever owned one LP, ‘On the Border’ but now I have the complete set of all six 70s releases from their debut up to the frankly dreadful ‘The Long Run’.  Has time mellowed my indifference or do they now strike a chord?  Well, yes and no.  Listening to these albums now in chronological order it is easy to see how the conversion from ex-Linda Ronstadt country backing band to full blown stadium rock ‘n’ roll outfit occurred.  Whilst there is a gradual shift over time, the most marked change in style happens about the time of my only purchase, ‘On the Border’.  It is here that the mix of Leadon-led country and Frey/Henley rock is at its most divisive following the arrival of additional guitarist Don Felder – a move that eventually precipitated the departure of Bernie Leadon.

Having listened to all six albums, my overall impression is that The Eagles were in essence a great singles band.  Each album has 2/3 stand out tracks and all of them were released as singles.  Even the Hotel California album itself, which I have now listened to for the first time, is little more than the title track with a load of so-so other tracks (I can feel the comments coming already!).  In many ways I am a bit disappointed by this as I expected to find many hidden gems amongst the non-single tracks but I’ve been a bit under whelmed to tell the truth.  Nevertheless, the singles still stand the test of time and show why The Eagles were such a revered band so I think I’ll stick with them.

I have made an ipod playlist of about a dozen of my favourites and it bears a very strong resemblance to most of the ‘Best Of’ compilations already on the market.  The only major addition I have made is to include Bernie Leadon’s tribute to Gram Parsons, ‘My Man’ which is one of the best Country songs I have ever heard and cannot understand why it doesn’t feature on any Eagles compilation.

So, are The Eagles the American Madness, a great singles band with a series of less than great albums?  Discuss.


Charlie Ricci said...

I enjoyed every Eagles album with the exception of The Long Run which is 2/3 garbage (mostly because the band was falling apart). My Favorites are Desperado & On the Border. Great American band.

TAD said...

Don't agree that the Eagles were a great American band. Greatly overrated, maybe. Greatly successful, definitely.
I always thought the Eagles' most memorable stuff was when they stepped out of character a bit -- like on "James Dean," & "Outlaw Man," which they didn't write. I liked a couple of the singles, especially "Peaceful Easy Feeling."
When they stuck close to what they did best they could also be pretty good, as in "Peaceful" and "Seven Bridges Road." But even a piece of garbage like THE LONG RUN has the pretty & Poco-ish "I Can't Tell You Why," and the outrageous comedy of "The Greeks Don't Want No Freaks."
How many good songs is that? 6 in a career? "Hotel California" was OK the first 1,000 times -- by now there's not much left there. Can't see why anyone would need a box-set. But then I can't see why classic rock fans go so gaga over them anyway....
Good Luck and cheers!

music obsessive said...

Charlie/Tad - Hmm...looks like I'm stuck in the middle here. I do like 'On the Border' and most of the singles, but struggle with the rest of their album material.
Take of them what you wish, I say.