Tag Archives: music

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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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

Sunday Song Suggestions #15…

Bring Me Some Water Melissa Etheridge – 1988

Every song on Melissa Etheridge’s self-titled album from 1988 is a winner, and the collection was certainly one of the best mainstream musical debuts of the eighties. Bring Me Some Water was her hard-hitting hello to the world and helped to put her on the map, with its crisp vocals, stripped back sound, and infectious chorus. It’s rock music without the bells and whistles often associated with it – the way rock music is meant to be.

When I got my hands on Melissa Etheridge (the album, not the woman – I don’t think I’m her type) I was still living in a pre-CD world, and I played the cassette so much that eventually the tape warped, which is of course the ultimate retro-compliment.

Traditionally, rock music is seen as male, which is at least part of the reason that she has been criminally underrated and overlooked throughout the duration of her career, but you don’t even hear Melissa Etheridge’s name mentioned often when there’s a discussion about female rock icons and their influence on the industry, but she should definitely be in that converation.

Songwriter, guitarist, and vocalist, Melissa Etheridge is one of the most consistent rock stars – male or female – of the last thirty years.

Sunday Song Suggestions #7…

Regulate – Warren G, featuring Nate Dogg – 1994

I’m not known for my love of rap, but there are a few tunes that have slipped under the radar and got me to listen over the years, and this is one of them. Few songs remind me of my college days more than Regulate, and this one takes me right back there, studying for an Accounts exam that I knew I would fail so badly, that I ended up not even turning up to do it, and I spent the day at the beach instead.

Of course, back in those days, I didn’t know that it sampled I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near) by Michael McDonald from 1982, but such is the nature of the genre. Shame for Michael, because it’s hard for me to listen to his track now without ending up back here with these two guys.

I couldn’t name another Warren G or Nate Dogg song, which is surprising, because having listened to this one on a veritable loop during the darker months of 1994, you would think I’d have investigated their respective catalogues. Hell, I’ve never even seen the Tupac Shakur movie, Above the Rim, that features heavily in the video. As such, I am definitely a surface fan of the genre, and you certainly won’t find me knee deep in the underground rap scene.

Still, Regulate always brings me a smile.

One of them dames was sexy as hell
I said “ooh, I like your size.”
She said, “my car’s broke down and you seem real nice,
would ya let me ride?”
I got a car full of girls and it’s going real swell
the next stop is the Eastside Motel.

Lyrics to live by, people. Lyrics to live by.

These Are a Few of My Favourite Things…

…well, not exactly.

Beginning tomorrow I’ll be starting a series of recommendations, four times a week, if for no other reason than it forces me to stick to a schedule with my blog, because I’ve been notoriously erratic with my updates lately. There will be a song each Sunday, a movie every Monday, a television show on Tuesday, and I’ll even throw in some fiction for Friday. What can I say? I’m a fan of alliteration.

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As I indicated, these are not necessarily my favourites, in fact I will be doing my best to steer clear of the obvious ones. There’s no fun in that. I want to focus on those examples that – for whatever reason – I have connected with over the years, so some of them may be obscure and will not resonate with others, but such is the beauty of art.

The world would be a boring place if we all liked ham and pineapple pizza, right?