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Monday, February 14, 2011

The Eagles: "The Eagles"

The Eagles

"The Eagles"
Asylum (1972)
1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die

The Eagles is a band that can’t get no respect. Its greatest hits package is the best-selling American rock album. Ever. The local arena hosted the band last year, and it sold out. No shortage of fans, but there is a serious shortage of love. The classic line from The Dude illustrates the critical disdain for The Eagles: “I had a rough night and I fucking hate The Eagles man.” It might be fair (if slightly unfair) to compare them to Nickelback; Plenty of fans and no affection.

The group definitely deserves some criticism. A good ballad is hard to find, but The Eagles beat the category to death. The group also abused the fadeout, ending songs by continuing to play and having the music drop off gradually. This method is one of the laziest and most annoying habits for a band to have, and The Eagles are major offenders.

Even for those who generally dislike the band (including the writer), the band’s self-titled debut stands out among the group’s catalog for its stronger singles, including “Take It Easy,” “Witchy Woman” and “Peaceful Easy Feeling.”

“Take It Easy” is probably the band’s best song, not just on the album, but altogether. The song was actually written by Jackson Browne, which doesn’t hurt. It ends up being a nice, easygoing track (no pun intended). Another classy touch on this track is the banjo playing of guitarist Bernie Leadon. The banjo didn’t last too long in The Eagles arsenal, but it helped the band’s early country persona.

A positive quality that the band always had was that the vocals never got boring. This was largely because the band had three different “lead” vocalists when “The Eagles” was recorded. Glenn Frey sang lead on “Take It Easy” and Don Henley took “Witchy Woman” and the change in vibe is obvious. Randy Meisner didn’t have as much luck singing on singles, but his voice still sets tracks like “Take The Devil” apart. The other benefit of having three potential lead vocalists: it’s easy to get great harmonies going and the band does it throughout its debut.

As mentioned earlier, The Eagles music is often flawed, and its debut is no different. But if any Eagles’ album is a great piece of classic rock, it’s this one.

INTERESTING FACT: “Take It Easy” reflects upon standing on a corner in Winslow, AZ. Browne later revealed that the song was actually based on events that took place in Flagstaff, but Winslow sounded better so he went with it. That didn’t stop Winslow from putting a statue of Frey on a street corner downtown however.

Take It Easy by The Eagles on Grooveshark

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