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Complete Greatest Hits - Eagles

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Genre: Country - Country Rock / Artist: Eagles / Original recording remastered / Audio CD released 2003-10-20 at Wsm

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      25.04.2009 08:48
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      Good sound from an ageless band

      Well, I'm off to my fourth Eagles concert in July so, to get me into the swing of things, I have brushed the cobwebs off yet another one of my Eagles albums and reacquainted myself with some of the finest tracks from, in my opinion, one of the best bands of the 1970's.

      For anyone old enough to remember the 70's (like me...:o( ), when someone mentions the Eagles, it's quite likely that songs such as Hotel California, Desperado and Life in the Fast Lane will immediately come to mind. These tracks are always included in the various Greatest Hits albums the Eagles have released over the past three decades. However, this album will surprise a lot of people who thought they knew the Eagles' music. It contains a lot of tracks that either never entered the UK chart, or were not even released in the UK, and in my opinion, shows the tremendous variation in style of the band's music over the years. Surprisingly, if you like the sound of the Eagles, it's a lot of the lesser known tracks that really make this album worth buying.

      ***A LITTLE BACKGROUND INFORMATION***
      =====================================
      The Eagles were formed in 1971 by Don Henley and Glen Frey who started out as backing singers for Linda Ronstadt. Guitarists Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner made up the original four piece line-up and Don Felder joined the group in 1974. During the mid 70's, Henley and Frey wanted to change the direction of the Eagles' music from the country rock genre to the more modern style of rock, which led to Leadon and Meisner being replaced by Joe Walsh, who was already an established guitarist in his own right, and Timothy B Schmidt. The group disbanded in the late 70's following well publicised arguments between the various members, namely Henley and Walsh, but reunited in the mid 1990's in order to play an 'unplugged' gig in the US. This led to the Hell Freezes Over album and tour, and despite the sacking of Don Felder in 1991, the Eagles have continued to tour as a four piece band, still managing to pack out stadiums worldwide. Henley and Frey never openly admitted to the band splitting up, but during the Hell Freezes Over tour, Glen Frey is quoted as saying "We never split up, we just took a fourteen year vacation!"

      ***TRACKS***
      ============

      (Disc 1)

      "Take it Easy" is quite an appropriate track with which to open the album as it was the very first song on their very first album, so what better way to introduce their greatest hits? The track was originally written by Jackson Brown, former room mate of Glen Frey and famous in his own right as a talented writer and singer. The track later became the first hit for the Eagles. Very typical of the early Eagles' sound, the track opens with a strong guitar intro with a hint of country music twang. But that's where the country resemblance ends - the drumbeat kicks in and you're left with a very catchy upbeat track.
      (My rating: 10/10)

      "Witchy Woman" is a very moody track which, in Don Henley's own words, marked the beginning of his professional songwriting career. In my opinion, it has a sort of 'gypsy' feel to it, particularly the line "She held me spellbound in the night, dancing shadows, firelight..." Or could this simply be because Henley wrote the lyrics in a semi-delirious state whilst suffering with flu? Whatever lies behind it, this is a classic piece of music.
      (My rating: 9/10)

      "Peaceful Easy Feeling" is not really one of my favourite Eagles songs. I find it a little dull and non-descript. Glen Frey takes the lead vocal, and whilst performing the track impeccably, the song itself lacks that certain something in my personal opinion.
      (My rating: 6/10)

      "Desperado" is one of the finest Eagles tracks written. It shows Don Henley at his best. Starting off with a gentle, slow piano intro, the song gradually builds up to a good, strong drumbeat, and eventually fades at the end. This is another Eagles track that benefited from a little contribution from Jackson Browne who suggested the track was given a gambling theme, hence the lines "Don't you draw the queen of diamonds boy, she'll beat you if she's able, you know the queen of hearts is always your best bet..."
      (My rating: 10/10)

      "Tequila Sunrise" was written at the same time as Desperado and is very typical of the early style of the Eagles' music. Some of the lyrics to Tequila Sunrise are based on the band members' uneasiness in talking to the women in the bars. This is where Tequila shots played a 'helpful' hand and so the final lines of the song were written - "Take another shot of courage, wonder why the right words never come, you just get numb..."
      (My rating: 9/10)

      "Doolin Dalton" instantly brings a vision to my mind. Picture the scene. A ghost town in America's mid west. Tumbleweed blowing across the front porch of a deserted saloon bar. Two cowboys lying dead following a shootout. Ok, sounds cheesy but I have never heard a song with such a haunting feel to it. This certainly won't be everybody's cup of tea but I would say have a listen, see what you think.
      (My rating: 10/10)

      "Already Gone" really speeds things up. Maybe not the best song on the album and by no means the best lyrics, but it does get the old foot tapping. It has a catchy rock sound to it and, in Glen Frey's words, it was him being free!
      (My rating: 8/10)

      "The Best Of My Love" slows things down once again. A very emotional track telling how the guy's love just wasn't enough for this girl. She wanted everything - all he had to give her was his love. Aah...
      (My rating: 9/10)

      "James Dean" is based on the real life events of the 50's movie icon, particularly his death in a car crash in 1955. I love the classic line of this song " along came a Spyder, picked up a rider and took him down the road to eternity". For anyone not familiar with the events of Dean's death, he was driving a Porsche Spyder when he was killed. This track has a very fast, rhythmic beat to it, quite representative of a speeding car.
      (My rating: 9/10)

      "Ol' 55" is one of the Eagles lesser known tracks but a great piece of music all the same. Originally recorded by Tom Wait, the Eagles took it and added their own style. . The song is simply about driving! It tells the tale of cruising along a freeway at sunrise - well, they did start out in California ya'know! - the singer is just taking his time while the cars are all passing him and trucks are flashing him.
      (My rating: 10/10)

      "Midnight Flyer" is a bit of letdown for me. It carries a little too much 'country' style for my liking and has a bit of a bluegrass feel to it. If you like this style of music, you'll love it, but I don't see this as a typical Eagles sound.
      (My rating: 5/10)

      "On The Border" is another track that has that 'driving alone along a highway' feel to it. A good track, maybe not to everyone's taste though.
      (My rating: 9/10)

      "Lyin' Eyes" is very typical of the Eagle's style. It's one of those 'man done wrong by woman' themes where the city girl is with the old rich guy solely for the good things in life, and come night time, she sneaks out to the other side of town to meet a younger guy for the erm, shall we say fun things in life? I love this song and it tells a very good tale!
      (My rating: 10/10)

      "One Of These Nights" is another one of my favourites on the album. A very sultry Don Henley at his best. A great opening line "One of these nights, one of these crazy old nights, we're gonna find out pretty mama, what turns on your lights". With a voice like that, I'd soon tell him what turns on my lights! Right, back to the review!
      (My rating: 10/10)

      "Take It To The Limit" is a MUST for the car CD player. "Put me on a highway, show me the sign, and take it to the limit one more time". This was the first Eagles single which sold a million copies and I am not surprised.
      (My rating: 10/10)

      "After The Thrill Has Gone" is a definite favourite of mine. It is put together so well and shows the perfect vocal partnership between Don Henley and Glen Frey. Frey sings the opening to the track and the more powerful mid section is carried off flawlessly by Henley. My favourite line of this track has to be "Any kind of love without passion, ain't no kind of loving at all". Wonderful stuff!
      (My rating: 10/10)

      "Hotel California" - this is what the Eagles are known for. Take it to the Limit may have sold a million copies, but Hotel California is probably the first song that springs to mind when someone mentions the Eagles. The guitar intro is instantly recognisable and you can guarantee that wherever you are, once Don Henley's thrashes out those two drumbeats, there will be someone in the room who will bang their knuckles on the table twice. Believe me, I have seen it happen on more than one occasion!
      (My rating: 10/10)

      (Disc 2)

      "Life In The Fast Lane" is where we find Joe Walsh at his best. An unmistakable intro to a fantastic upbeat track, with a flawless guitar twang leading into quite a raunchy number with the innuendo here and there. Or maybe that's just the way my mind works?
      (My rating: 10/10)

      "Wasted Time" is a classic ballad by the dulcet vocals of Don Henley. This track is proof that all you need to create a good record is a piano and a great voice. Perfect combination in this case.
      (My rating: 10/10)

      "Victim Of Love" is one of those songs that you either love or hate. I don't think it is typical of the Eagles' usual style but a good track all the same.
      (My rating: 9/10)

      "The Last Resort" is yet another one of my favourites off the album. The first line of the track - "She came from Providence, the one in Rhode Island" - was loosely based on one of Don Henley's ex-girlfriends who, oddly enough, came from Rhode Island. This is a good ballad which keeps you hanging onto the words throughout.
      (My rating: 10/10)

      "New Kid In Town" earned the Eagles a Grammy. Quite a slow track but quite a catchy tune.
      (My rating: 9/10)

      "Please Come Home For Christmas" is not really my thing. I would describe this as a 'quaint little tune' which, I might add, is also a cover version so not typical of the Eagles sound.
      (My rating: 7/10)

      "Heartache Tonight" takes us a little more uptempo again and is a very catchy tune. A strong guitar intro leads us into a good rocky number.
      (My rating: 10/10)

      "The Sad Café" is, in my opinion, such a beautiful ballad and for anyone not familiar with the Eagles' music, I would strongly recommend you give this one a listen. The Sad Café is a place where people would dream. Some dreams came true, some didn't, but while you were in the Sad Café, anything seemed possible.
      (My rating: 10/10)

      "I Can't Tell You Why" introduces us to Timothy B Schmidt who rarely performed lead vocals on Eagles' records. A shame really, because this man's voice can reach heights many women would envy. In comparison to vocals by Frey and Henley, this brings a refreshing change to the album with a whole new sound. A beautiful ballad.
      (My rating: 10/10)

      "The Long Run" is quite often an opener to Eagles live performances and it works well in letting everyone know this is what the Eagles are about. A very strong, upbeat track.
      (My rating: 10/10)

      "In The City" is sung from the perspective of a guy who is looking for something better in life. A better quality than that which he is used to in the city. Another good track.
      (My rating: 10/10)

      "Those Shoes" is all about women standing on their own too feet (yes, it really is!) A track that I find a little confusing, but I love it all the same.
      (My rating: 10/10)

      "Seven Bridges Road" (Live) is an a capella track which, in my view, shows the pure talent of the band. Who needs instruments and drum machines? As far as the lyrics are concerned, probably not one of my favourites.
      (My rating: 7/10)

      "Love Will Keep Us Alive" is another track with Timothy B Schmidt on lead vocal. This song was written for the comeback Hell Freezes Over Tour as proof that they were together again and writing new material, rather than just dishing out the old stuff. An exceptionally written ballad with some very soul searching lyrics.
      (My rating: 10/10)

      "Get Over It" is Don Henley sticking two fingers up at the media for the upset and grief they cause. It's about the mess newspaper editors and reporters leave behind just to get a story, nor caring who they upset along the way. Apparently, one of the fastest records the band have ever written, but one which they manage to pull off well.
      (My rating: 10/10)

      "Hole In The World" was written on the day of the 9/11 attacks in the US. The band were due to do some studio recording but, after hearing of the events of that day, Don Henley stayed home and wrote this track instead. A simple message is portrayed by this song - you get nowhere by fighting. It's simpler just to love one another. Corny but true!
      (My rating: 10/10)

      ***PRESENTATION AND ARTWORK***
      ===============================
      The CD inlay itself comprises a picture of an Eagle's hood. Simplicity in itself. However, the CD also includes a mini-biography of the band. This comes in the form of a 46 page booklet which is basically an interview with Don Henley and Glen Frey giving their thoughts on each track, together with background information on how the track came about. Also featured are photographs of the band and its various line-ups over the last thirty years.

      ***PRICE***
      ==========
      I purchased my copy of the CD when it was released in 2003 and I paid in the region of £14.99 from Tesco. However, on checking with Amazon, it is currently on sale at £6.99 or lower.

      ***SILLY QUESTION BUT ... WOULD I RECOMMEND IT?***
      ===============================================
      I would definitely recommend this album. If you enjoy the band's better known songs like Hotel California and Desperado, but are not familiar with some of the songs in the review, I am sure you would enjoy listening to this album. Although this is a greatest hits album, many of the songs did far better in the US and are probably therefore not widely known outside the States. However, the likes of The Sad Café, These Shoes and After The Thrill Has Gone are, in my mind, certainly worth a listen.

      Thank you for reading.

      (Also on Ciao: matthewsmum)

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    • Product Details

      Disc #1 Tracklisting
      1 Take It Easy
      2 Witchy Woman
      3 Peaceful Easy Feeling
      4 Desperado
      5 Tequila Sunrise
      6 Doolin Dalton
      7 Already Gone
      8 The Best of My Love
      9 James Dean
      10 Ol' '55
      11 Midnight Flyer
      12 On the Border
      13 Lyin' Eyes
      14 One of These Nights
      15 Take It to the Limit
      16 After the Thrill Is Gone
      17 Hotel California

      Disc #2 Tracklisting
      1 Life in the Fast Lane
      2 Wasted Time
      3 Victim of Love
      4 The Last Resort
      5 New Kid in Town
      6 Please Come Home for Christmas
      7 Heartache Tonight
      8 The Sad Café
      9 I Can't Tell You Why
      10 The Long Run
      11 In the City
      12 Those Shoes
      13 Seven Bridges Road
      14 Love Will Keep Us Alive
      15 Get Over It
      16 Hole in the World (new recording)