Eagles, Chapter III – On the Border (1974)

Members: Don Felder, Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Bernie Leadon, Randy Meisner

On the Border is somewhat of the bastard child in the Eagles catalogue. It comes just a year after their ambitious second album and feels a little light in comparison, although there are still a few gems here.

Don Felder was a late addition to the band here, and as such this album is the first line-up change in their three year history. His impact is minimal here, and his real presence will be felt later.

Already Gone (Jack Tempchin / Robb Strandlund)
Lead – Frey
Things get off to a good start on this album, with this uptempo rocker which became a staple of their live sets. Once again Frey takes the reins and proves his chops. 7

You Never Cry Like a Lover (Don Henley / JD Souther)
Lead – Henley
This is an underrated album song that showcases Henley at his melodic best, so much so that it is almost a disappointment when the other guys join in after a couple of verses. Still, that middle third is a keeper. 8

Midnight Flyer (Paul Craft)
Lead – Meisner
Banjo tracks are really a tough sell for me, even when they’re done by the Eagles. This is completely fine, and the final section is more interesting than what has come before, but that’s about it. 5

My Man (Bernie Leadon)
Lead – Leadon
This is Leadon’s only solo gig on his penultimate album with the Eagles. It’s not bad, but it’s entirely forgettable, and the poorest track on this album. 5

On the Border (Don Henley / Bernie Leadon / Glenn Frey)
Lead – Henley
The title track is a good palette cleanser after a couple of so-so songs. It pulls the boys away from their country roots and injects a little rock into their sound. Interestingly, Bernie Leadon shares the writing credit for this one, as it’s not the kind of track I would associate with him. 8

James Dean (Don Henley / Glenn Frey / JD Souther / Jackson Browne)
Lead – Frey
James Dean feels like an odd subject for a song. He had been dead for a couple of decades when this album was released, so even then it must have felt like a time capsule of sorts. 45 years later, it’s hard to see this having much resonance with the youth of today, but still, it’s a cool groove. 6

Ol’ 55 (Tom Waits)
Lead – Frey & Henley
This one doesn’t do much for me, but the vocals are crisp and I like the way it builds. It’s also good to hear Frey and Henley sharing the spotlight and taking turns with it. 5

Is it True? (Randy Meisner)
Lead – Meisner
Meisner’s vocal contributions to this album were not the best, but this is the better of the two. Without the guitar, this would probably be scored lower. 6

Good Day in Hell (Don Henley / Glenn Frey)
Lead – Frey
This is where you can hear the strongest contribution by Don Felder on this album, and it hints at the direction the band would be taking from this point on. Great title too. 7

Best of My Love (Don Henley / Glenn Frey / JD Souther)
Lead – Henley
One of the greatest songs the Eagles ever produced, and a perfect fit for Henley. Lyrics with real emotion is not always a requirement, but this is heartfelt and poignant, and a real showcase for the harmonies that would become the group’s calling card. 10

Overall: 67%
Disappointingly, this feels like a bit of a step down from their last effort. Best of My Love is its saving grace, so for that reason it’s hard to be too negative here.

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