One of the more intriguing elements of this exercise for me will be including the primary releases of the Eagles, perhaps the most successful country-rock-pop act of the 20th century. Their ability to sustain success in album sales and concert ticket sales has few comparisons, and I will be eager to see how their music evolves by listening to their full albums. Today is their debut release from 1972, simply titled “Eagles”, and was rated as album #207 on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
Not unlike the Beatles, the Eagles were ultimately dominated by two primary personalities and voices in the act, singer and guitarist Glenn Frey and drummer and vocalist Don Henley. Their lineup evolves significantly through the course of this album, but their original lineup also included Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner. Like the Beatles, typically whoever wrote the song usually served as lead vocalist.
My overall take on their debut album? It was ok, but clearly not the peak of their capabilities as an act. There were three successful singles from the album, but the rest of the content did not contain what I would consider any “hidden gems”. I have always liked two of the three successful singles, and the third, “Witchy Woman”, by Don Henley, has never done much for me, even though oddly enough it charted higher than either of the others.
Perhaps their earliest signature song opens the album, “Take It Easy”. Telling the tale of “standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona”, Glenn Frey took an unfinished Jackson Browne song and turned it into an Eagles classic. Frey also sung the other landmark song from this album, “Peaceful Easy Feeling” which also captures their early blend of country rock, even though both Frey and Henley allegedly battled with producer Glyn Johns for an edgier rock sound.
The rest of the album is not that memorable to me. The Meisner and Leadon songs don’t do anything for me, and for all of his leadership in the band, Henley only had one other song, “Nightingale”, which was a late and uninspired addition to the album.
The Eagles have proven to be enduring and popular on a level matched by few acts, although I don’t think anyone could have fully predicted that from this album. I look forward to watching this story unfold.