Heartache Tonight 45 by The Eagles.

November 1, 2012

The Eagles had me from the a cappella type introduction.

“Heartache Tonight” was written by committee but what a committee it was. Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Bob Seger, and J.D. Souther got together to pen one of The Eagles biggest hits.

The Eagles were huge stars when they released the song during early October of 1979. It would become their fifth number one single topping the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart for one week.

As usual the harmonies were impeccable. The song won a GRAMMY AWARD for Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group. This is one the Grammy’s actually got right.

Please Come Home For Christmas 45 by The Eagles

July 25, 2012

The Eagles are an iconic American rock band who are one of the most commercially successful groups in American history. Their first GREATEST HITS album is one of the two biggest selling albums in music history. It was number one but when Michael Jackson died, THRILLER passed it.

While their albums have sold ten-of-millions of albums, they also issued a number of successful singles, with five reaching number one on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart.

“Please Come Home For Christmas” was issued during the late fall of 1978 and became a holiday hit by reaching number 18. The flip side, “Funky New Year,” was also a catchy holiday song.

It may have been an unusual release for the Eagles but it remains one of the better holiday discs of the 1970s.

The Greeks Don’t Want No Freaks 45 by The Eagles

May 10, 2010

The beauty of the 45 rpm format was that there was always a second song on the flip side. While these B sides would be throwaways or weak album tracks many times, every once in awhile there would be a gem which I would prefer it to the hit side.

The Eagles had a top ten hit with “I Can’t Tell You Why” during the winter of 1980. It would reach numer eight on the American singles charts. I must admit that I rarely played the A side as it is one of those records I turned over.

“The Greeks Don’t Want No Freaks” is about as loose as The Eagles would ever sound. It is a high octane rock song that can be classiifed as modern frat rock. It remains one of my favorite Eagles songs and makes me wish they would loosen up more often.

Long Road Out Of Eden by The Eagles

July 15, 2009

Twenty-eight years between studio albums is a long time. Six years to actually record an album is an equally long time. Nevertheless The Eagles finally released Long Road Out Of Eden October 30, 2007. Was it worth the time and effort? Their fan base obviously thought so as it sold over seven million copies and continued the group’s string of number one albums in The United States. It would also win two Grammy Awards.

I remember watching a 60 Minutes segment devoted to The Eagles shortly after the album’s release. The dynamic between Glenn Frey and Don Henley was terrible. Henley appeared detached and irritable plus constantly stated that this would be the last Eagles album. The tensions within the group continued but the money was reason enough for some sort of unity.

Prior to the release there had been an ongoing argument between Frey and Henley whether to release a single or double album. I think they were both right in a way. Henley’s single album would have been stronger, but if this was truly the last Eagles album then Frey’s desire to include as much material as possible made sense. Frey won and it was released as a two disc, twenty song set.

Long Road Out Of Eden is a long and sprawling affair. At first listen, I quickly realized how accustomed I had become to hearing their greatest hits for the past 28 years. As such, the new songs had a difficult time measuring up.

The album starts very strong. “No More Walks In The Woods” is almost a cappella and reminiscent of “Seven Bridges Road.” It quickly establishes the modern day Eagles could still harmonize. “How Long” is probably the best known song and closest to their classic work. The harmonies are tight and the changes in tone exquisite. “Busy Being Fabulous” proved that Frey and Henley could still write a good song together as the melody is excellent. “What Do I Do With My Heart” features a fine Glenn Frey vocal laid against more pure harmonies.

The second disc is highlighted by the ten minute title track. There is some classy guitar work but the lyrics are a little too preachy for my taste.

There is a lot of good and some average as well among the twenty songs. It is certainly not their best release. Still it is admirable that they could produce a very credible album 28 years after their last effort. Since it is doubtful there will ever be another Eagles release this one will have to do.

Hell Freezes Over by The Eagles

July 15, 2009

So how long does it take for hell to freeze over? According to The Eagles about fourteen years. The animosity was so great within the group in 1980 that Don Henley stated, “Hell would have to freeze over before The Eagles would play together again.” The individual members of the group had gone on to modest solo careers and so in 1994 they re-grouped. It proved that in this case the streets of hell were paved with gold.

The re-formed Eagles would be as popular as ever with their concerts consistently selling out despite charging exorbitant prices. Hell Freezes Over would top the American charts and sell millions of copies.

This new album would consist of eleven live versions of their older material plus four new studio tracks. There is also a DVD version of this album which presents all the songs live plus contains some bonus tracks as well. In some ways it is superior to the CD as it allows you to see the purity of group’s vocal perfection without any studio wizardry.

The eleven live tracks have all been heard before and in several forms but after nearly a decade and a half it was nice to hear the vocal harmonies soar once more. No track is more flawless than “I Can’t Tell You Why” which just shimmers. On the other side of the musical equation “Hotel California,” with a new intro, and “Life In The Fast Lane” give Joe Walsh and Don Felder one last chance to unite their guitars into the sound that was so unique.

One of my favorite tracks was the new studio song, “Get Over It.” It could almost be a biographical statement as tensions would remain despite their new career. They would never really take their own advice as expressed here. The other new song of note was “Love Will Keep Us Alive” where Timothy B. Schmidt shows off his unique vocal style.

Hell Freezes Over may not have been the best or most creative album that The Eagles ever released but it did not matter as their fan base had been waiting fourteen years for a new release.

All in all it was a credible effort and while it has been superseded by other releases it nevertheless established the fact that the re-formed Eagles of 1994 had not missed a beat.

Eagles Live by The Eagles

July 15, 2009

The Eagles were no more. Tensions within the group had caused their dissolution. “Hell would have to freeze over before The Eagles would get back together” or so stated Don Henley. It turned out that it took just under 15 years for hell to freeze solid.

The group owed their label one more album and so Eagles Live was issued in the fall of 1980. It was cobbled together from their 1979-1980 Long Run tour and their pre-release Hotel California tour from 1976. Producer Bill Szymczyk overdubbed some of the harmonies and guitar parts after the fact.

I believe the less you know about how the album was put together the better as it is actually a pretty good listen. It presents an accurate picture of The Eagles live at the end of the first part of their career. The performances are sharp and the harmonies and musicianship near perfect. Of particular note is the work of back-up drummer Joe Vitale who adds an extra dimension to the sound.

The track that always attracts my attention is “Seven Bridges Road.” I am still amazed at the purity of the harmonies at the beginning of the song. This gentle folk song, written by Steve Young, was a perfect addition to their stage act.

Joe Walsh shines with what are basically two solo numbers with The Eagles as his back-up band. There is a nine minute plus version of “Life’s Been Good” which allows him to improvise a bit more than normal for a member of The Eagles. His “All Night Long” is Walsh at his hard rocking best.

For the most part they stick to their well known material. “The Long Run,” “New Kind In Town,” “Take It To The Limit,” “Life In The Fast Lane,” and “Desperado” all make appearances. They vary from their hit parade with the unplugged “Saturday Night” which is another fine addition.

The final track, “Take It Easy,” rocks more than the studio version and benefits from that treatment. It is a perfect conclusion for a live album.

Eagles Live may not be the best live album ever released but it was quite good and served its purpose. Today it has been rendered somewhat obsolete by the Hell Freezes Over live material. Still if you want an entertaining picture of The Eagles circa 1976-1980 then this release is still worth seeking out.

The Long Run by The Eagles

July 14, 2009

The Eagles returned nearly three years after the release of Hotel California and all was not well. Drug use and bickering among the group members had almost reached a climax. Original member Randy Meisner would become fed up with the mess and leave altogether. He was replaced by Timothy B. Schmidt who had, oddly enough, taken over for him in Poco a number of years before.

It was difficult at best to follow the brilliant Hotel California and the biggest selling album in U.S. music history, Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975). The anticipation leading up to their next album was tremendously high and only intensified through its two-year recording process.

The Long Run may not have had the consistent excellence of some of the group’s other studio albums, but it nevertheless contained a number of high points. It would ultimately prove to be a very popular release as it was the Number One album in America for over two months, contained three Top Ten singles including their last Number One hit, and garnered yet another Grammy award.

Joe Walsh was now firmly entrenched within the group and his dual guitar attack with Don Felder signaled an effective end to their country/rock inclinations as here they would veer in a harder rock direction.

“Heartache Tonight” which would reach Number One on the American charts, remains one of my favorite Eagles songs. The a capella type introduction and the morphing into a smooth rock song are a brilliant combination. Glenn Frey’s vocal along with Joe Walsh’s slide guitar make it a perfect Eagles track.

I am sure I am in the minority but my other favorite track from this album is the goofy “The Greeks Don’t Want No Freaks.” I’m not sure how serious they were when recording this song but it gets the spirit of college or toga rock just perfect. It’s just an infectious and fun, rocking romp.

“I Can’t Tell You Why” is a showcase for new member Timothy B. Schmidt, whose lead vocal is memorable while his voice among the harmonies is effective as well. The title track bears a wistful aspect to it as Don Henley’s vocal floats above the mix. “In The City,” which finds Joe Walsh in full-on rock mode both vocally and musically — especially on the slide guitar — is a remake of his contribution to the movie, The Warriors.

The final track, “The Sad Café,” would be the group’s swan song. Henley’s bluesy vocal is enhanced by David Sanborn’s soulful sax, making for a poignant finish to what would be perceived as the end of the Eagles’ career.

The Long Run is flawed by some of its lesser songs but it also remains very listenable — especially if you want the rocking Eagles.

The group members would go their separate ways and produce a number of solo projects with varying degrees of success over the subsequent years. The bitterness of the group’s dissolution was such that they maintained hell would have to freeze over before they played together again.

Hotel California by The Eagles

July 14, 2009

Late 1976 found The Eagles reigning as one of the most popular bands in the world. Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975), released the previous February, was well on its way to becoming the biggest seller in United States music history. Hotel California, issued on December 6th, would build upon that legacy.

The album would be their most successful studio release. It would spawn two Number One singles, earn two Grammy awards including Record of the Year, and eventually sell sixteen million copies in the United States.

Change was in the air for the Eagles. Bernie Leadon had departed and taken his soft country/rock inclinations with him. His replacement was rock guitarist extraordinaire Joe Walsh, who would change the group’s sound and provide a formidable presence over the years ahead. The added bonus was that his vocals would fit their harmonies just right. Hotel California would also mark Glenn Frey and Don Henley’s official domination of the group as they co-wrote seven of the album’s nine tracks.

It there is one song that shows off Joe Walsh’s arrival it’s “Life In The Fast Lane.” The lead-off riff makes it quickly apparent that there is a new guitarist in town. While Don Henley’s vocal explores the lyrics of a ’70’s lifestyle, it is the guitar of Walsh that makes the track memorable. His other major contribution was “Pretty Maids All In A Row.” This track, written with long time partner Joe Vitale, sounds more like a solo effort and is very seventies as the guitar shares equal billing with the synthesizers.

The two signature songs were both huge hits. “Hotel California” would include memorable solos by Walsh and Felder, demonstrating just how technically adept they could be both separately and together. A classic Don Henley vocal floats above the mix. “New Kid In Town” is basically a Glenn Frey production as he provides the lead vocal and a fine acoustic guitar performance.

“Try and Love Again” was written and sung by Randy Meisner and would prove to be his swan song with the group. I’m not sure of his reason for leaving the Eagles but his contributions cannot be underestimated. This mid-tempo rocker finds him at his best one last time.

Many people regard Hotel California as the apex of their recording career. It would show a lyrical depth while maintaining the perfect harmonies, musicianship, and production for which they were so noted. The catchiness of the music combined with the seriousness of its themes makes it memorable, entertaining, and enduring.

Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) by The Eagles

July 14, 2009

When exploring the catalog of an artist many times I skip the compilation albums. However, when the release is the biggest selling album in United States music history it deserves some attention.

To date, Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) by the Eagles has sold over 29 million copies in the USA — and that is a lot of albums. It ranks in the top five worldwide with over fifty million units sold — and that is really a lot of albums.

The album was assembled from the best and most popular tracks from the group’s first four studio releases. It’s appeal has endured, now going on three generations plus fans of rock, pop, and country music still find it attractive. The songs still receive extensive radio airplay which enables the group and the album to remain in the public eye.

The ten tracks, actually recorded between 1972 and 1975 despite the title, are from what can be labeled as the pre-Joe Walsh Eagles. Glenn Frey and Don Henley had not yet begun to dominate the group and Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner were significant contributors.

All of the material is instantly recognizable and form much of what is most associated with the Eagles and remains an important part of their concert act decades later.

The music travels from the smooth flowing country/rock of “Take It Easy,” “Lyin’ Eyes,” and “Peaceful Easy Feeling” to the rock orientations of “Already Gone,” “One Of These Nights,” and “Take It To The Limit” to the poignant, beautiful ballads “Best Of My Love,” “Tequila Sunrise.” and “Desperado,” and culminating with the ominous undertones of “Witchy Woman.” Through it all the harmonies are impeccable, the musicianship superb, the music catchy, and the production polished.

My favorite aside to the album is in recalling that Jack Tempchin, who has had a good career as a producer and singer/songwriter, wrote two of the tracks and so has been collecting royalties for each album sold for the past three plus decades. I can’t imagine what that adds up to but it gives meaning to the phrase “a boat load of money.”

Is it the best album release in American music history? The answer to that question is no but almost thirty million people have put down their hard earned cash to purchase a copy and that is a testament to its timeless quality.

Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) remains listening enjoyment at its best by a group that has had enduring popularity.

One Of These Nights by The Eagles

July 13, 2009

One Of These Nights, issued in June of 1975, would be one of the Eagles strongest and most consistent albums, proving to be their commercial breakthrough. It would sell over four million copies in the United States, produce three top five singles, and top the American charts for over a month.

1975 found the Eagles producing the type of polished pop/rock that would serve them so well for the rest of their career. While they would receive some criticism for their sound being a little too slick and technically correct, it would be popular and enduring regardless.

As with many of their releases, the group and producer Bill Szymczyk had a knack for choosing the best songs to release as singles, which was important for radio airplay in the mid-seventies. “One Of These Nights” was their second Number One single, containing memorable dual-lead vocals by Don Henley and Randy Meisner and featuring Don Felder providing one of the better guitar performances of his career. “Lyin’ Eyes” is smooth country/rock with tight harmonies in support, which would win the group a Grammy Award. “Take It To The Limit” was Randy Meisner’s most famous vocal performance, proving that he was integral to the Eagles’ success and sound during his tenure with the group.

One of the more interesting songs in the Eagles catalog was the instrumental, “Journey Of The Sorcerer.” This nearly seven-minute extravaganza would feature contributions by all group members but Bernie Leadon, who wrote the song. It would be one of the quirkiest tracks of the group’s career yet, in its own way, it was also mesmerizing.

Several other tracks of note would include the rocker “Visions” which contained the only lead vocal that Don Felder would ever provide; “Hollywood Waltz,” which was a mid-tempo ballad with a smooth lead vocal by Don Henley; and “After The Thrill Is Gone,” a song about love lost which would be a part of their stage act for years.

The album would conclude with “I Wish You Peace.” This gentle song of good wishes would be Bernie Leadon’s swan song as he would shortly depart.

One Of These Nights was one of the better albums of the seventies. Commercially and artistically, the Eagles would never look back. It remains essential not only to their catalog but to the decade as well.