The Eagles came together in early 1971 when Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner pooled their impeccable US country rock credentials and experiences with a cool-headed ambition that saw them outstrip the competition. Considering they started out as a support act in clubs like the LA Troubadour the fact they have gone on to sell over 150 million albums justifies their meticulous approach to writing and the recording process.
Frey and Henley were part of Linda Ronstadt’s troupe. Don Henley emigrated West from Texas and his early outfit Shiloh while Glenn Frey was a leading light in Longbranch Pennywhistle. Leadon, a multi-instrumentalist with banjo, lead guitar and pedal steel at his fingertips, and the expert harmony singer and bassist Meisner (he’d been in Ricky Nelson’s country rock band) forged the vital chemistry that resulted in The Eagles (1972) which yielded the classic ‘Take It Easy’ (penned by Jackson Browne), ‘Witchy Woman’ and ‘Peaceful Easy Feelin’’ The Old West duelling gang imagery of Desperado became their second classic album and established the group in Europe after they’d toured as support to Neil Young (including memorable dates at the Royal Festival Hall and a BBC In Concert).
The quartet were a revelation and showed no signs of resting on their laurels when they released the superb On The Border (1974) bolstering their move towards a harder rock sound with producer Bill Scymczyk, though Englishman Glyn Johns was still on hand for the more country cuts. The arrival of Don ‘Fingers’ Felder gave the outfit a hard edge and a kick that delighted their growing fan base. One of These Nights (1975) fused all the elements that the newly crowned kings of US rock were famous for: amazing virtuosity, hard core harmony and clever writing with Henley and Frey’s avowed decision to outdo each other acting as an American answer to Lennon and McCartney. The title track and subsequent smash hits ‘Lyin’ Eyes’ and ‘Take it to the Limit’ made this album the sound of the year and on their biggest tour to date Fleetwood Mac were their opening act.
The aforementioned Their Greatest Hits (1976), which preceded Hotel California, is the third biggest selling album in rock history. Hotel California itself is simply a must-have although there can’t be many people left who haven’t been exposed to the majesty of ‘New Kid in Town’, ‘Life in the Fast Lane’ and the title track - whose irresistible bolero shuffle is one of the most instantly recognisable sounds to seep off a turntable or thicken the airwaves. The Long Run and a sequence of compilations kept The Eagles in the public eye even as Henley and Frey diversified and made solo albums of their own. Then in 1994 they reconvened with Hell Freezes Over (the title a reference to their oft-remarked if jokey response to pleas for a reunion). With four new studio cuts and eleven tracks culled from an MTV special this was the end of their 14-year vacation. With Timothy B. Schmit (ex-Poco and a regular participant on Steely Dan albums) and the showmanship and guitar dexterity of Joe Walsh firmly installed in the ranks Hell Freezes Over simply sounds like they’d never really been away. The new compositions ‘Get Over It’, ‘Love Will Keep Us Alive’, ‘The Girl from Yesterday’ and ‘Learn to be Still’ (co-written by Henley and Tom Petty’s drummer Stan Lynch) are followed by what is a definitive live account from Burbank, California of their best-known songs. Following a brace of box sets it was evident that the appetite for new Eagles product was larger than ever and Long Road out of Eden (2007) arrived to satisfy that hunger. Pieced together over six years Eden won them two Grammy awards for ‘How Long’ and the moody instrumental ‘I Dreamed There Was No War’.
Significantly a far more political item than anything they’d done to date this double CD set contains some of their most important songs, especially the atmospheric title track and the dark image heavy ‘No More Walks in the Woods’. There are also mature overviews on the nature of fame and the Eagles’ own reputation for living life in the fast lane. Unlike most groups who tend to peak early The Eagles returned with a well-considered masterpiece that grows better on each listen. A subsequent worldwide tour looks set to continue until next year at least with The Eagles recruiting former members and returning to their roots, displaying all the confidence of an outfit who have nothing left to prove but plenty to offer. Classic sounds.
Words: Max Bell
Long Road Out of Eden is the seventh studio album by the Eagles, released in 2007 on Lost Highway Records. Nearly six years in production, Long Road Out of Eden is the first studio album from the Eagles since 1979's The Long Run, and along with the four original tracks on 1994 Hell Freezes Over, and two songs in 2003 ("Hole in the World") and 2005 ("One Day at a Time"), the only original material since.
The album produced two singles on the Hot Country Songs charts: a cover of J.D. Souther's "How Long" and "Busy Being Fabulous", both of which were Top 30 hits on the country charts as well as Top 20 hits on the Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks charts. The album produced five straight hits on the Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks charts with "How Long", "Busy Being Fabulous", "No More Cloudy Days", "What Do I Do With My Heart", and "I Don't Want to Hear Anymore".
The album debuted at #1 in the U.S. and won the band two Grammy awards for "How Long" and the instrumental "I Dreamed There Was No War". The album became the band's sixth #1 album and was the highest selling album of the year. It has since sold 3.5 million copies in the U.S. alone. Being a double album with length exceeding 90 minutes, the album was certified 7x Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for shipments of 3.5 million discs.
Hell Freezes Over is a live album by the Eagles, released in 1994. It contains four new studio tracks and eleven tracks recorded live for an MTV special. The album went to No. 1 on the Billboard album chart upon its release where it stayed for two weeks. It is the band's second live album behind their live album in 1980. The Eagles had reformed after a fourteen-year-long break up. The album proved to be as successful as the tour, selling over six million copies and releasing two Top 40 singles in "Get Over It" and "Love Will Keep Us Alive". The band's lineup consisted of the Long Run era: Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Joe Walsh, Don Felder, and Timothy B. Schmit. The tour would last from 1994–96 and became one of the most successful tours in music history. The album also features an acoustic version of "Hotel California". Hell Freezes Over was also released in video form on VHS, LaserDisc and DVD.
Analog Man is the eleventh studio album released by Joe Walsh. It is also his first solo album to be released since 1992's Songs for a Dying Planet, 20 years prior. The album peaked at No. 12 on the Billboard top 200 list, as well as No. 4 on the top rock albums.
The Very Best of Don Henley is the second compilation album by Don Henley, released in 2009 and his first release since Inside Job in 2000. A deluxe version containing extra bonus tracks plus DVD material is also available.
The Deluxe Collector's Edition of Long Road Out of Eden was released on November 20, 2007, featuring two bonus tracks, "Hole in the World" and "Please Come Home for Christmas." This version of the CD is wrapped in a red linen cloth, screen printed with panoramic imagery, and includes a 40-page booklet with lyrics, credits, exclusive photos and desert scenes from the making of the "How Long" video.