Tag Archives: Bernie Leadon

Eagles, Chapter II – Desperado (1973)

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

Desperado is the only studio release in the catalogue of the Eagles that was conceived as a concept album, and that fact alone could have meant this second offering was also their last.

It is the difficult second album – the one that has made many artists and broken so many more. Desperado shows the confidence of the Eagles to take their sound in a different direction, and the skill to do so without seeming like they areĀ  just trying to find a new audience.

Doolin-Dalton (Don Henley / Glenn Frey / JD Souther / Jackson Browne)
Leads – Frey & Henley
From the evocative opening mouth organ, this is a great scene-setter that tells a good story. One of their finest album-only tracks. 8
Twenty-One (Bernie Leadon)
Lead – Leadon
Not one of my favourites, but it’s upbeat, very short, and the country sound is more reminiscent of their debut album than anything they would produce in later years. 5
Out of Control (Don Henley / Glenn Frey / Tom Nixon)
Lead – Frey
Probably the hardest vocal Frey ever laid down for the Eagles, on top of a drum-heavy track. The title is apropos, because at times this feels more like a jamming session than a song the Eagles released. 6
Tequila Sunrise (Don Henley / Glenn Frey)
Lead – Frey
This is an Eagles staple, but I have always found this song to be a little overrated, probably because it is played so damn often. Not a bad song – the Eagles don’t really do those – but far from their best effort. 6
Desperado (Don Henley / Glenn Frey)
Lead – Henley
This is another familiar number, even to the casual ear. It is also one of the best songs that came out of the Henley/Frey writing partnership, and one of a handful of tracks that is synonymous with the band. It’s hard to hear anybody other than Don Henley singing this one. 9
Certain Kind of Fool (Don Henley / Glenn Frey / Randy Meisner)
Lead – Meisner
This is Meisner’s only vocal lead on this album, but this is his finest hour. He always sounds good, but he connects here with every line and he sounds great. 9
Doolin-Dalton (Don Henley / Glenn Frey / JD Souther / Jackson Browne)
instrumental
It’s difficult to judge this as it’s an extremely brief banjo interlude that segues beautifully into…
Outlaw Man (David Blue)
Lead – Frey
…Frey’s best song on the album. I still think that Glenn’s voice is more suited to something in a softer genre, but his work on the first two albums suggest he wants a rougher edge to his tunes. 7
Saturday Night (Don Henley / Glenn Frey / Randy Meisner / Bernie Leadon)
Lead – Henley
This Spanish-infused song is the only one credited to the original four members of the band, and it has grown on me over the years. I never used to get it, but I have learned to appreciate it over the years. 7
Bitter Creek (Bernie Leadon)
Lead – Leadon
A good song, and a very good fit for Leadon’s voice. The track keeps hinting that it wants to go somewhere else, but it never does. 7
Doolin-Dalton/Desperado (reprise) (Don Henley / Glenn Frey / JD Souther / Jackson Browne)
Lead – Henley
I like Doolin-Dalton and I like Desperado. Individually they are excellent songs. So together they must be amazing, right? Well… not really. It’s a case of the whole not being as great as the sum of its parts. Stilll good, but this mash-up is not as strong an end credit sequence as I had hoped for. 7

Overall: 71%
This could have ended up all kinds of wrong, but instead, Desperado is a definite improvement over their debut album. At least a couple of the songs on offer are right there in the conversation for the best tracks that the Eagles ever released.

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Eagles, Chapter I – Eagles (1972)

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

The Eagles’ debut album sees the band at their most stripped back – before ego and indulgence, although both would come before they ended their run.

Every member is allowed to shine vocally here, with each of them holding the mic for at least one track – a feather which is certainly atypical for many other bands, and a risky move that shows their desire to present the ensemble as equals.

The division of labour would certainly shift as the band progressed, but here at the beginning, the Eagles were just four young guys sharing the workload.
Take it Easy (Glenn Frey / Jackson Browne)
Lead – Frey
This is the first track on their first album, and some will say that they hit the ground running with this and never really improved. It’s hard to hate on it because it’s such a feelgood tune… and I’m not going to try. I wouldn’t go so far as to claim it’s the greatest thing they ever did, but it’s certainly a top tier Eagles song, and deserves its place in any collection of favourites. 8
Witchy Woman (Don Henley / Bernie Leadon)
Lead – Henley
Henley’s raspy plea struggles to fit in with the rest of this album because it’s a world away from anything else around it. This song feels like it’s split from the same seed as One of These Nights, and it would have fit nicely on that album, but its inclusion here is a sign of where the Eagles would head musically over the next few years. A great song. 9
Chug All Night (Glenn Frey)
Lead – Frey
This is a little known track, but a solid early rocker, at a time when the Eagles were primarily producing softer, easy-going songs. Frey wouldn’t have been my first choice to sing this kind of track, but then he did write it. He is (mostly) comfortable on the microphone, but it is evident that he’s learning how to perform the harder stuff. 6
Most of Us Are Sad (Glenn Frey)
Lead – Meisner
It’s hard not to feel reflective when listening to this one. It’s the kind of sombre song that encourages you to take out your lighter at a concert… or go buy one if you’re not a smoker. This is the weakest of Meisner’s vocal contributions to the album. 5
Nightingale (Jackson Browne)
Lead – Henley
An inoffensive up-tempo Henley number that I imagine would sound great in the car with the top down. There’s nothing particularly wrong with it – and I usually give Don a little more rope than I would others – but it’s probably about a minute longer than it needs to be. 5
Train Leaves Here This Morning (Bernie Leadon / Gene Clark)
Lead – Leadon
Six songs in and all four Eagles have been given a shot in the spotlight. This simple and mellow campfire-ballad fits Leadon’s lower register well, and is the better of his two efforts here. 6
Take the Devil (Randy Meisner)
Lead – Meisner
A good Meisner number that shows a different side to his vocal style. It has an excellent guitar sound, and is musically reminiscent of their follow-up album, Desperado. 6
Earlybird (Bernie Leadon / Randy Meisner)
Lead – Leadon
The weakest song on the album. It starts with irritating bird chatter and segues into some banjo music… so right away it’s a hard sell. Thankfully it’s very short, so it doesn’t leave too much of a stain. 4
Peaceful Easy Feeling (Jack Tempchin)
Lead – Frey
Along with Take it Easy, this is widely considered to be the second classic from their debut album. Frey did not have the strongest voice in the band, but he had a knack for presenting these mid-tempo tracks believably that would have left every other Eagle floundering. 7
Tryin’ (Randy Meisner)
Lead – Meisner
I should go on record as saying that Meisner was the most underrated Eagle. His voice soars on this final upbeat track, and it’s a fine way to end the album. 7

Overall: 63%
That feels a little low, but the numbers don’t lie. Debut albums are often a case of a band finding their musical feet, and that’s what’s happening here. There are some bright spots along with a couple of forgettable tracks, and their sound is helped immeasurably by the fact that they use all four members of the band behind the mic. It’s notable too that at this early stage, Henley’s only credit is a co-writing gig for Witchy Woman.

Eagles, Foreword…

R-1521205-1509062258-6225.jpegI discovered the Eagles when I was a teenager and the rest of my peers were getting into dance music – back when I used to borrow music cassettes from the library. Yes, that long ago. I don’t think you can do that anymore. At the time I probably could only have named a couple of their tracks; Hotel California, and maybe one other. But I have always been open to new voices and sounds, and the ‘Best of’ collection that I picked up that day was just the kind of detour from my usual playlist that I was looking for.

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Leadon, Meisner, Henley, Frey

Although our musical tastes are – to one degree or another – influenced by those of our parents, mum and dad had nothing to do with my interest in the Eagles. From memory, I think the attraction was purely based on first impressions. It was the album cover; a needle-straight highway threading its way through Monument Valley. Google was still a handful of years away, so there was no way for me to research who these Eagles were. I just had to take the tape home and press play. So that’s what I did.

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Henley, Felder, Frey, Leadon, Meisner

Something about their music just clicked with me. From their expert musicianship to their perfect harmonies; from their biting lyrics to their indulgent instrumentals. They were not contemporary at that time – in the early nineties – and it was certainly not considered cool to like them either, so I don’t know why their music spoke to me, but it did. The Eagles produced the kind of sound I didn’t know I was missing, and from that day to this, they became my favourite band.

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Henley, Walsh, Meisner, Frey, Felder

The Eagles got together several years before I was born, and by the time I was old enough to have an opinion they had been split up for a number of years. They did reform in 1994 (after what Glenn Frey termed their ‘fourteen year vacation’), but by then the musical landscape had shifted, and their particular style of seventies country-rock was no longer in favour.

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Frey, Felder, Henley, Walsh, Schmit

I thought it would be interesting to take each of their seven studio albums and review them. Nothing too detailed; just a general feeling of what each record does for me. Maybe once I’ve done that I’ll get around to their miscellaneous stuff as well, such as Eagles Live from 1980, and Hell Freezes Over, from 1994, because they’re important to the story of the band too. At the end of it all I’ll probably throw in my top ten list of tracks, because who doesn’t enjoy a subjective list?

I was fortunate enough to see the Eagles perform live twice in Glasgow – first in Hampden Park in July of 2001, and then at the Hydro in May of 2014. They were two of the greatest concert experiences I have ever had. Of course, the passing of founding member Glenn Frey in 2016 changed the face of the group forever, and although the Eagles have continued without him, they have lost an integral part of what made them special.

So if you enjoy the music of the Eagles, come with me for the ride; and if they have never made it onto your playlist, perhaps I can encourage a few new fans along the way.

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Walsh, Henley, Frey, Schmit