While listening to today’s album, “Desperado”, by the Eagles, I came up with what I believe to be a new term to describe their music… “Date Night Rock”. It’s rock enough that the guy doesn’t feel like he’s being dragged to a Michael Buble show, but with enough pop and ballad content that the stereotypical girl is going to enjoy the show as well. It doesn’t hurt that at this point, it is primarily a middle-age white couple date night, which allows the band to charge several hundred dollars per ticket and fill every seat… but I digress. “Desperado” is their second studio album, shaped around an entire concept of western/cowboy themes, even though it was recorded in London.
I do enjoy certain elements of this band, and on this album, you really see Glenn Frey and particularly Don Henley emerge as the most capable and influential members of the band. Two albums in, and I still haven’t heard anything with Bernie Leadon or Randy Meisner that does much for me, but the two stars of the band do shine on this record. “Doolin-Dalton” opens the record, and also makes multiple reappearances in an instrumental and reprise format, blended in then with the title track. If the Eagles ever tried to deny their country-rock roots, they should probably hide this album, as the first two songs, and most of the others, have a very country feel to them. Glenn Frey then turns it up with perhaps the loudest and heaviest Eagles song I have heard to date, “Out of Control”, and then slams on the brakes with what is my favorite song on the album, his ballad “Tequila Sunrise”. This is a great mix of melody and lyrics, as most of us can relate to that occasional night that tends to gain a second and third wind, and before you know, you have overcome most of your bad decisions as daylight breaks in the distance. It really is a beautiful, if simple, song.
Side one ends with the title track, a Henley classic. I never loved this song to begin with, and unfortunately for me, for twenty years plus it has just been the butt of a running joke on Seinfeld, but it is another very well constructed tune that highlights Henley’s voice in a way we didn’t hear on the first album. It is also very true and central to the western-outlaw theme of the album.
Side two opens with “Certain Kind of Fool”, a song written by and featuring Randy Meisner, that just doesn’t do anything for me. The same can be said for “Bitter Creek”, later in side two, which is Bernie Leadon’s meandering western ballad. I do like “Outlaw Man”, featuring Frey on lead vocals, and the multiple reprisals of “Doolin-Dalton” and “Desperado” are interesting content I had never heard before.
As I noted, I do like the Eagles, at least some of what they do, but two albums in, knowing their primary hit collection as I do, I feel like there is still better work to come. I can also look forward and frankly see the benefits of some of the lineup changes the band ultimately realized. More discussion for another day, enough riding fences for today.