Asylum Records, 1972


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


After an exhausing weekend in which I spent part of the time seeing how much beer I could quaff and the other part doing the flight-of-the-bumblebee Christmas shopping, I wanted something easy to review. You know -- not a lot of searching through the Pierce Archives (All I want for Christmas is a DVD, a DVD... oh, never mind), not a lot of analyzation needed. And, seeing that we haven't touched the Eagles for some time, it seemed right that we take a look at their self-titled debut today. (Of course, the last thing I needed to see was a song titled "Chug All Night"...)

An amalgam of former members of Poco, the Flying Burrito Brothers and Linda Ronstadt's backing band, The Eagles were the epitomy of the laid-back California country-rock from the get-go. All members were capable lead singers, and sometimes it seemed like you needed a scorecard to figure out who was singing where. Originally a quartet, the lineup of Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Randy Meisner and Bernie Leadon quickly put their stamp on the music industry with Eagles -- and over 25 years later, it still ain't bad.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The album benefits from an early partnership with Jackson Browne, who co-wrote the band's first hit, "Take It Easy." Even today, it remains a pleasant jangly pop song that catches you with its melody and guitar work. The introduction of banjo at the final chorus might have thrown the 1972 listener for a loop at the time, but today it sounds just as natural as the band meant it to be. But Browne does not really influence the band that much on this effort that I can hear; the sounds I hear on Browne's "Doctor My Eyes "and anything off this album are two unique animals.

Eagles is now known for three songs -- the aforementioned "Take It Easy," "Witchy Woman" and "Peaceful Easy Feeling" -- not bad for your first effort. "Witchy Woman" has a special edge carved into the song, though I'm not sure if it's the guitar work or Henley's vocal that makes it sound that much more evil. (Why is it that Henley always got these types of songs? Two words: "Hotel California.") "Peaceful Easy Feeling" definitely shows off the laid-back California style -- the band doesn't kill themselves doing this one, and both the band and the listener find themselves relaxing in the moment.

The first half of Eagles is the most solid portion of the album - worth giving a spin are "Nightingale" and "Chug All Night" (though I don't recommend acting out the title -- oh, Christ, my head). It does seem that there are times the band has difficulty keeping the quality level above average. "Train Leaves Here This Morning" is an example -- they try, but the song just fails to take off. "Take The Devil" and "Earlybird" are steps in the right direction, but they too don't shine like they could have.

And it's not that I think the singles are the only worthwhile moments on this album; far from it. I do think that songs like "Tryin'" and "Nightingale" are worth your time to check out and be awed at. I would tend to write off the few sub-par songs as "first-time" jitters. This was, after all, a merging of a few different schools of country-rock, and it would take some time before it really jelled. (Some may argue it wouldn't come together until Joe Walsh came in and gave the band a swift kick in the ass.)

Eagles is a pleasant enough listen -- not to mention a short one, at just around 35 minutes -- and is worth investigating to hear how their sound originally came to be. While country music fans may find this to be too close to rock and rock fans may be turned off by the use of banjo and slide guitar, the Eagles blazed the middle of the road rather well on their first attempt.

Rating: B-

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© 1997 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Asylum Records, and is used for informational purposes only.