Eagles – Desperado (1973)

FrontCover1Desperado is the second studio album by the American band the Eagles. It was recorded at Island Studios in London, England and released in 1973. The songs on Desperado are based on the themes of the Old West. The band members are featured on the album’s cover dressed like an outlaw gang; Desperado remains the only Eagles album where the band members appear on the front cover.Desperado is the second studio album by the American band the Eagles. It was recorded at Island Studios in London, England and released in 1973. The songs on Desperado are based on the themes of the Old West. The band members are featured on the album’s cover dressed like an outlaw gang; Desperado remains the only Eagles album where the band members appear on the front cover.

Although the title track is one of the Eagles’ signature songs, it was never released as a single. The song “Desperado” was ranked number 494 on Rolling Stone’s 2004 list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”. The album did yield two singles, though: “Tequila Sunrise” and “Outlaw Man”. Those two singles reached number 64 and number 59 respectively. The album reached number 41 on the Billboard album chart and was certified gold by the RIAA on September 23, 1974, and double platinum on March 20, 2001.

Desperado was the last Asylum Records album to be distributed in North America by Atlantic Records (catalog no. SD 5068), prior to Asylum’s mid-1973 merger with Elektra Records by Asylum’s, Elektra’s and Atlantic’s parent company, Warner Communications.

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After a commercially successful first album, Frey wanted the second album to be one where they could be taken seriously as artists, and became interested in making a concept album. The original concept was for songs about anti-heroes; according to Glenn Frey, he was jamming together with Don Henley, Jackson Browne, and J. D. Souther after a Tim Hardin concert when they had the idea of doing an album about anti-heroes. One inspiration was a book on gunfighters of the Wild West given to Browne by Ned Doheny for his 21st birthday, and Browne showed them the book and suggested the theme. The book includes stories about Bill Dalton and Bill Doolin; from this came the song “Doolin-Dalton” about the Doolin-Dalton Gang. However, they ran out of ideas after writing “Doolin-Dalton” and “James Dean” about the eponymous actor. The idea for anti-heroes then become the Western-themed Desperado.

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Jackson Browne himself credited the song “Desperado” written by Frey and Henley as the origin of the outlaw theme of the album. Bernie Leadon said that Frey liked the idea of an analogy between outlaw gangs and rock-and-roll: “Glenn sat everybody down and mapped out which characters in the gang could have songs written about them, or encouraged us to write songs about this concept.” As Frey said of the album in an interview in 1973: “It has its moments where it definitely draws some parallels between rock-and-roll and being an outlaw. Outside the laws of normality, I guess. I mean, I feel like I’m breaking a law all the time. What we live and what we do is kind of a fantasy.” Henley also said that the album was to be their “big artistic commentary on the evils of fame and success, with a cowboy metaphor.” However, he admitted: “The metaphor was probably a little bullshit. We were in L.A. staying up all night, smoking dope, living the California life, and I suppose we thought it was as radical as cowboys in the old West. We were really rebelling against the music business, not society.” Part of the reasons for their dissatisfaction and cynicism with the music business was due to David Geffen selling his independent Asylum label to Warner Communications which then merged it with Elektra, and the band attributed this as the reason for the lack of interest in promoting the band internationally by EMI.

Eagles4The other songs in the album quickly came together after the theme had been decided. Even though Desperado is sometimes described as a concept album, it does not have a specific narrative, and the songs do not necessarily fit in with the theme explicitly. “Desperado” was the first song Frey and Henley wrote together, marking the beginning of their songwriting partnership. Henley noted: “That’s when we became a team.” “Tequila Sunrise” was written in the same week as “Desperado”; in all Frey and Henley were involved in writing 8 of the 11 songs in the album. The songwriting prowess of Frey and Henley in Desperado also marks the beginning of their dominance in the band. As Henley said; “That was a real crucial time for us. When we formed the band, it was supposed to be one of those ‘everybody’s equal’ affairs. We’d all sing and all write and so forth. But the fact is people aren’t all going to be able to do everything the same. It’s just like on a football team . . . . Some people quarterback and some people block. So we went through a lot of hassles for a while.”.

Leadon wrote two songs – “Twenty-One” and “Bitter Creek”, while Randy Meisner co-wrote “Certain Kind of Fool” and “Saturday Night”. “Twenty-One” refers to the age of Emmett Dalton, the youngest of the Dalton gang, when he was shot 23 times but survived during the raid on Coffeyville, Kansas in October 1892. Meisner came up with the idea for how someone became an outlaw in “Certain Kind of Fool”, wrote most of it, and said of his contribution: “I kinda started it. And that’s what usually happened – I’d get a verse or two, and I’m done, and they would help fill in the blanks” The only song on the album not written by the band members of Eagles is “Outlaw Man”, which was written by David Blue and chosen because it fit the theme.

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The album was recorded at the Island Studios in London, which took four weeks at a cost of £30,000. The producer Glyn Johns wanted to produce the album quickly and economically, each track was therefore limited to four or five takes, and requests to record more were refused.

Henley would later state that his greatest regret was that he did not sing as well as he could on the title track “Desperado”, and would have liked to redo the song.

According to the producer Johns, he and Leadon tried to come up with a few musical links in an attempt to tie up the story for an outlaw concept in the album, however, the concept itself dissipated. The band was very happy with the finished result; after Johns had played the album back to them as an entity for the first time, they carried him on their shoulders out of the control room.

However, the finished recording was received poorly by Jerry Greenberg, the president of Atlantic Records, who said: “Jeez, they’ve made a fucking cowboy album!”

The film director Sam Peckinpah had planned to use the album as the basis for a film, but the plan did not come to fruition.

The photograph on the back cover as a reenactment of the capture of the Dalton Gang. On the ground are Jackson Browne, Bernie Leadon, Glenn Frey, Randy Meisner, Don Henley, J. D. Souther.

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The artwork for the album was done by artist Gary Burden with photos by Henry Diltz, both of whom were also responsible for Eagles’ first album. To illustrate the theme for the music in the album, the original concept was for a gatefold double album with the band dressed as outlaws on the front cover with images of gunfight and the Wild West inside. The centerfold idea however was scrapped by David Geffen.

On the back of the album is an image of all four members of the band together with Jackson Browne and J. D. Souther lying dead and bound on the ground, with a posse including the producer Glyn Johns (far right in a white hat), manager John Hartmann, road manager Tommy Nixon, artist Boyd Elder (later responsible for the skull artwork of Eagles’ later albums), roadies, and Gary Burden (far left) standing over them.

The photo is meant to be an reenactment of the historical image of the capture and death of the Dalton Gang. Jackson Browne said that the image on the back cover with the musicians lying dead is when the “whole thing really comes together”.

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The photo shoot took place at the Paramount Ranch, an old film set for Western movies in Malibu Canyon. It was however an expensive shoot, and to justify the cost, a promotional film for the album was also made at the same time. The film was shot on Super-8, then sepia-tinted, and transferred to videotape. In each process a little video quality is lost, which Frey described as a “nice accident” as it made the video appear aged and more realistic. Henley described the promotional film, like the album itself, as “a commentary on [their] loss of innocence with regard to how the music business really worked”]

Paul Gambaccini of Rolling Stone gave the album a positive review on its release in 1973. He wrote: “The beautiful thing about it is that although it is a unified set of songs, it is not a rock opera, a concept album, or anything pretending to be much more than a set of good tunes that just happen to fit together.” In conclusion, he wrote: “Desperado won’t cure your hangover or revalue the dollar, but it will give you many good times. With their second consecutive job well done, the Eagles are on a winning streak.”

Robert Christgau however took the view that “with its barstool-macho equation of gunslinger and guitarschlonger, its on-the-road misogyny, its playing-card metaphors, and its paucity of decent songs, this soundtrack to an imaginary Sam Peckinpah movie is “concept” at its most mindless.”[24] AllMusic editor William Ruhlmann praised that Henley had more involvement with the album, but wrote that it “was simultaneously more ambitious and serious-minded than its predecessor and also slighter and less consistent.”

The Eagles Dressed as Cowboys

The album is now considered by some critics to be the one of the significant albums of country rock. Music writer John Einarson argued in his book Desperados: The Roots of Country Rock that despite its weak initial sales, the album “would set the tone for all the later soft country rock sounds, and impact what would become the foundation of “new country”, in both image and music.”

Released in April of 1973, the album was not a commercial success initially. It debuted on the US Billboard 200 chart at a lowly number 145 on its week of its release, rising to number 41 in its eighth week on the chart, It remains Eagles’ lowest charting album and it produced no hit song, as both singles released from the album, “Tequila Sunrise” and “Outlaw Man”, failed to reach top 50 on the main singles chart.

However, the success of their next album release, On the Border, as well as subsequent releases, spurred on the sales of the album. It was certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on March 20, 2001, indicating shipment of 2 million copies in the United States. (by wikipedia)

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Personnel:
Glenn Frey (guitar, vocals, keyboards, harmonica)
Don Henley (drums, vocals, guitar)
Bernie Leadon (guitar, vocals; banjo, mandolin, dobro)
Randy Meisner (bass, vocals)

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Tracklist:
01. Doolin-Dalton (Henley/Frey/Browne/Souther) 3.34
02. Twenty-One (Leadon) 2.10
03. Out Of Control (Henley/Frey/Nixon) 3.05
04. Tequila Sunrise (Henley/Frey) 2.54
05. Desperado (Henley/Frey) 3.37
06. Certain Kind Of Fool (Henley/Frey/Meisner) 3.02
07. Doolin-Dalton (Instrumental) (Henley/Frey/Browne/Souther) 0.48
08. Outlaw Man (Blue) 3.35
09. Saturday Night (Leadon/Henley/Frey/Meisner) 3.20
10. Bitter Creek (Leadon) 5.04
11. Doolin-Dalton/Desperado (Reprise) (Henley/Frey/Browne/Souther) 4.51

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Eagles – One Of These Nights (1975)

frontcover1One of These Nights is the fourth studio album by the Eagles, released in 1975. The record would become the Eagles’ first number one album on Billboard’s album chart in July that year, and yielded three Top 10 singles, “One of These Nights”, “Lyin’ Eyes” and “Take It to the Limit”. Its title song is the group’s second number one single on the Billboard Hot 100. The album sold four million copies and was nominated for Grammy Album of the Year. A single from the album, “Lyin’ Eyes”, was also nominated for Record of the Year, and won the Eagles’ first Grammy for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.

One of These Nights is the last Eagles album to feature guitarist Bernie Leadon, who was later replaced by Joe Walsh. Leadon left the band after the One Of These Nights tour. The seventh track, “Visions”, is the only Eagles song on which lead guitarist Don Felder sang the lead vocals, despite his desire to write and sing more songs. The album was the band’s commercial breakthrough, transforming them into international superstars and establishing them as America’s number one band. They went on a worldwide tour to promote the Album.
The Eagles began working on their fourth album in late 1974. Glenn Frey and Don Henley wrote four of the nine songs by themselves, and they also collaborated with other members of the band on three other songs. Many of the songs were written while Frey and tshirtHenley were sharing a house in Beverly Hills, including “One of These Nights”, “Lyin’ Eyes”, “Take It To The Limit” and “After The Thrill Is Gone”. Henley joked in an interview with Cameron Crowe that it was their “satanic country-rock period” because “it was a dark time, both politically and musically” in America, referring to the turmoil in Washington and disco music starting to take off. He added: “We thought, “Well, how can we write something with that flavor, with that kind of beat, and still have the dangerous guitars?” We wanted to capture the spirit of the times.”
Frey said that “One Of These Nights was the most fluid and ‘painless’ album [they] ever made”, and thought that the quality of the songs he wrote with Henley had improved dramatically. However, Leadon was becoming increasingly unhappy during the making of the album. He wrote three of the nine songs, none of which was released as a single. He was unhappy with the more rock direction of the band that Frey preferred, at one time walking out of a meeting to discuss which take to use after the recording of a rock track. Leadon would leave the band in late 1975, after the album was released.
Frey also began to sing less as a lead singer starting with this album, singing solo lead on only one song (“Lyin’ Eyes”) and sharing lead vocals with Henley on another (“After the Thrill Is Gone”). Henley later said: “[Glenn] was generous in that respect … If I began to do more than he did, it was because if someone had a strong suit he would play that card. ‘You sing this, you sing it better,’ that kind of thing.” Randy Meisner sings lead on two songs, one of which, “Take it to the Limit”, a composition he co-wrote with Frey and Henley, was released as the third single from the album. It is the only Eagles single on which Meisner sings lead.
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The cover for the album is an image of an artwork by Boyd Elder, also known as “El Chingadero”. Elder created artwork of painted skulls in the early 1970s, and pieces of his work, titled “American Fetish”, were exhibited in an art gallery in Venice, California in 1972. Among those who attended the opening were members of the Eagles who performed “Witchy Woman” at the show, an early appearance by the band as the Eagles. Elder was also a friend of the album cover designer Gary Burden, who had been responsible for the Eagles’ three previous albums and who was interested in using one of Elder’s pieces for this cover.[10] Elder presented two of his works to the Eagles in Dallas in late 1974, one of which was then chosen for the cover of One of These Nights. Later another work of Elder, an image of an eagle’s skull, would be used for the cover of Their Greatest Hits album. The painted animal skull motif was also used in the cover for their compilation album The Very Best of, and the skull of One of These Nights was used for the cover of the documentary History of the Eagles.
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The album cover for One of These Nights is the last Eagles album design on which Burden was involved. He made the skull stand up off the page by debossing large areas together with detailed and elaborate embossing in the wings and feathers. According to Burden, the cover image represents where the band was coming from and where they were going – “The cow skull is pure cowboy, folk, the decorations are American Indian inspired and the future is represented by the more polished reflective glass beaded surfaces covering the skull. All set against the dark eagle feather wings that speak of mysterious powers.” The album artwork received a Grammy nomination for Best Album Package.
Stephen Holden of Rolling Stone, in an early review of the album, expressed a liking for the album for its relative lack of conceptual pretension compared to the Eagles’ previous albums, but did not consider it a great album. He thought the band’s ensemble playing “unprecedentedly excellent” but they “lack an outstanding singer”, and that while “many of their tunes are pretty, none are eloquent.” He added: “And for all their worldly perceptiveness, the Eagles’ lyrics never transcend Hollywood slickness. Their hard rock has always seemed a bit forced, constructed more from commercial considerations than from any urgent impulse to boogie. And when the Eagles attempt to communicate wild sexuality, they sound only boyishly enthused. These limitations, however, seem built-in to the latter-day concept of Southern California rock, of which the Eagles remain the unrivaled exponents.
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“The Rolling Stone Album Guide judged the album to be the band’s “most musically adventurous outing yet, flirting with disco on the title song, a waltz on “Take It to the Limit”, and bluegrass psychedelia on Leadon’s “Journey of the Sorcerer”.
William Ruhlmann of AllMusic in a retrospective review was more favorable; he thought that it had more original material and that the material was more polished. He wrote: “One of These Nights was the culmination of the blend of rock, country, and folk styles the Eagles had been making since their start; there wasn’t much that was new, just the same sorts of things done better than they had been before. In particular, a lyrical stance—knowing and disillusioned, but desperately hopeful—had evolved, and the musical arrangements were tighter and more purposeful. The result was the Eagles’ best-realized and most popular album so far.”
The album first entered the Billboard 200 chart at No. 25 the week of its release, and climbed to No. 1 in its fourth week on the chart, where it then stayed the next four weeks. It is the first of the four consecutive No. 1 albums by the Eagles. The album was certified Gold three weeks after its release on June 30, 1975, and it received its 4× Platinum certification on March 20, 2001, signifying shipment of over 4 million copies in the United States.
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Personnel:
Don Felder (vocals, guitar, slide guitar)
Glenn Frey (vocals, guitar,  piano, harmonium)
Don Henley (vocals, drums, percussion, tabla)
Bernie Leadon (vocals, guitar, banjo, mandolin, pedal steel-guitar)
Randy Meisner (vocals, bass)
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David Bromberg (fiddle on 04.)
Albhy Galuten – Synthesizer on 03.)
Jim Ed Norman – piano on 05. + 06.)
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The Royal Martian Orchestra conducted by Jim Ed Norman (04.)
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Tracklist:
01. One Of These Nights (Henley/Frey) 4.51
02. Too Many Hands (Meisner/Felder) 4.43
03. Hollywood Waltz (B.Leadon/T.Leadon/Henley/Frey) 4.04
04. Journey Of The Sorcerer (B. Leadon) 6.40
05. Lyin’ Eyes (Henley/Frey) 6.22
06. Take It To The Limit (Meisner/Henley/Frey) 4.49
07. Visions (Felder/Henley) 3.58
08. After The Thrill Is Gone (Henley/Frey) 3.56
09. I Wish You Peace (Davis/B. Leadon) 3.45
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Eagles – Earlybird (Live At BBC Theatre London) (1973)

FrontCover1Probably one of the most successful bands of the 1970s and the most successful of the West Coast genre were, without question, The Eagles. Formed in 1971, they quickly grabbed the audience‘s attention and made a very fast climb to the top. They took their Country/Folk/Hard Rock hybrid out of the clubs and small venues straight to the stadiums, and they made a considerable impression on the Rock World – and they led the way for numerous acts to follow in their footsteps.

Tonight it’s a concert recorded for the BBC’s Sight And Sound Series with BBC Radio 1 and BBC TV – this is the Radio 1 portion. It all went down on March 20, 1973 – roughly a month before the release of their 2nd album Desperado, while still promoting their self-titled debut album, which boasted three top-40 singles and was a huge seller.

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Like the Jackson Browne concert from last night, the Eagles concert tonight captures the band fresh, still getting a handle on their success and approaching their performances with the edge that only comes from playing something an audience hasn’t heard live before.

The Eagles were a hugely influential band, and dominated the Pop Music scene in the U.S. for much of the 70s. And while there were other genres evolving and growing, it was this brand of Rock that captured the mainstream as well as the FM audience in the U.S. – and for the first time in a long time, they were all on the same page.

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Personnel:
Glenn Frey (guitar, vocals)
Don Henley (drums, vocals)
Randy Meisner (bass, vocals)
Bernie Leadon (guitar, banjo, vocals)

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Tracklist:
01. Train Leaves Here This Morning (Clark/Leadon) 4.09
02. Saturday Night (Meisner/Henley/Frey/Leadon) 3.46
03. Peaceful Easy Feeling (Tempchin) 4.36
04. Certain Kind Of Fool (Meisner/Henley/Frey) 3.46
05. Earlybird (Leadon/Meisner) 5.18
06. Witchy Woman (Henley/Leadon) 5.40
07. Take It Easy (Browne/Frey) 5.47
08. Out Of Control (Henley/Frey/Nixon) 3.08

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Glen Frey:
(November 6, 1948 – January 18, 2016)
REST IN PEACE !