Tag Archives: Bernie Leadon

Eagles, Chapter IV – One of These Nights (1975)

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

One of These Nights inarguably marks a change in sound for the Eagles, and – following their first three heavily country influenced releases – it would begin a trilogy of more rock-oriented albums.

Don Felder may not have been the man who made that happen, but his guitar was certainly a great influence on their music. Bernie Leadon is lost in this line-up, and his departure after this album – while sad – almost feels like the shackles have been loosened for a band that were moving in a different direction by now.

One of These Nights (Don Henley / Glenn Frey)
Lead – Henley
A bona-fide Eagles classic with super harmonies and a great guitar sound throughout. It’s like they introduced disco to rock and discovered this song in the process. 9

Too Many Hands (Randy Meisner / Don Felder)
Lead – Meisner
Meisner may be the one singing here, but this song has Felder’s fingerprints and fretboard all over it. It starts off strong but loses it a little towards the end. 7

Hollywood Waltz (Don Henley / Glenn Frey / Bernie Leadon / Tom Leadon)
Lead – Henley
A very deliberate and sombre song. I like it, but there isn’t enough here for me to latch onto. Henley is competent on vocals, but I get the feeling he is sleepwalking through this one. 6

Journey of the Sorcerer (Bernie Leadon)
instrumental
The Eagles didn’t release many instrumental tracks during their run, and this is both the longest and the best one they ever did. Oddly, this may be the high point of Leadon’s tenure with the band, but it’s a track that would have fit better a couple of albums ago. 7

Lyin’ Eyes (Don Henley / Glenn Frey)
Lead – Frey
A mellow Eagles classic which stays in second gear all the way through, but it tells a good and relatable story. It’s a simple lyric, and you may think it goes on a verse too long, but it’s hard to fault the sincerity of it. 7

Take it to the Limit (Don Henley / Glenn Frey / Randy Meisner)
Lead – Meisner
This song may not be the best one Meisner performed with the Eagles, but it is the greatest single contribution that he made to the legacy of the band. 8

Visions (Don Henley / Don Felder)
Lead – Felder
The only Felder lead vocal is a good one. His weakness as a singer is masked by the music and the rest of the boys accompanying him. 7

After the Thrill is Gone (Don Henley / Glenn Frey)
Lead – Frey & Henley
This is a solid (but far from inspired) shared vocal, and one of their less celebrated collaborations, with Frey finding his home on the verses and Henley taking on the more emotional bridge work. 7

I Wish You Peace (Bernie Leadon / Patti Davis)
Lead – Leadon
The final Leadon vocal, and it feels like the rest of the guys were throwing him a bone here. It’s not bad, but this is a track for a different album. 6

Overall: 71%
There may be a few Eagles standards here, but One of These Nights is the only genuinely great song on the album. Fortunately, the other tracks are pretty good across the board, putting this right up there with Desperado on the scorecard.

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.

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.

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