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.