The Eagles may have lived life in the fast lane, but their music has rarely veered away from the middle of the road. It might have made them anathema to the too-cool-for-school crowd, but it hasn’t stopped them from becoming one of the biggest bands in rock history. Their savvy combination of rock and country has resulted in every one of their seven studio albums going platinum – or, in the case of Hotel California, 26x platinum status. Here’s how we rank every the Eagles album from worst to best.
7. On The Border
Following Desperado’s lackluster sales, the Eagles rebounded with their third studio album. On The Border introduced the guitar talents of Don Felder (albeit for just one song), ditched the country for a more rock-orientated sound, and swapped out the band’s previous producer for Bill Szymczyk. Commercially, the changes had the desired effect: the album debuted at No. 50 on the Billboard 200 before climbing to No. 17. Within just two and a half months of its release, it had been certified gold. It also gave the band their first US No. 1 single in the shape of the acoustic ballad, The Best of My Love. Artistically, it’s another story. It’s not devoid of merit, and ultimately, it helped the band transition into the superstars they’d become over their subsequent albums. However, with the exception of The Best of My Life, Ol’ 55, and My Man, the songs are uniformly weak. A necessary step on their journey, perhaps, but one that’s best skipped by all but the most devoted.
As Ultimate Classic Rock notes, with songs like Peaceful Easy Living, Witchy Woman, and Take It Easy, the Eagles’ self-titled debut solidifies the then-emerging California country-rock sound. But asides from the obvious hits, the album is very much the work of a band in progress. There’s too much country, not enough rock, and some of the songs are bland to the point of being completely forgettable. It may have been a commercial hit, but the Eagles were still a long way from reaching the heights they would on future albums.
5. Long Road Out Of Eden
After a long break from the studio, the Eagles returned in 2007 with their first album of original material in 28 years. For the most part, Long Road Out Of Eden doesn’t disappoint. Standouts include the hugely powerful title cut; How Long, a country rocker that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on Desperado; and No More Cloudy Days, a typically assured Glenn Frey composition. Released in October 2007, it debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 to become the highest-selling album of the year. It’s since gone on to win 2 Grammys and certify 7x platinum. Yet for all that, it’s not a faultless album. No matter how long we’d been waiting for new material, a 20 song album is still a hard slog. Even the songs themselves are far too long, with some stretching upwards of 10 minutes in length. A very fine return, maybe, but one that would have been all the better for some editing.
4. The Long Run
Following an album like Hotel California is never an easy task, which may explain why the Eagles took two years to make The Long Run. Sonically, it’s a world away from the band’s country roots, the only trace of which can be found on Glenn Frey’s rollicking chart-topper, Heartache Tonight. Overall, it’s a very smooth, very polished, and incredibly radio-friendly offering. I Can’t Tell You Why, Those Shoes and In the City all quickly established themselves as MOR standards, and remain classic rock radio staples to this day. Yet for its slickness, the cracks were already starting to show, both in the distribution of lead vocals and in such oddly clinical affairs as The Disco Strangler. It may have reached No. 1, but clearly, the band were in need of a break. They got one – released in 1979 as the Eagles’ 6th studio album, The Long Run served as their last studio album for 28 years
The Eagles’ debut may have been uneven, but commercially, it was a huge hit, peaking at No. 22 on the Billboard 200. In comparison, its follow-up was a disappointment. Released in April 1973, Desperado limped to No. 41, while its two singles, Outlaw Man and Tequila Sunrise, charted at a dismal No. 64 and No. 59 respectively. Yet despite its commercial failings, Desperado is a classic, and certainly one of the most richly textured and creatively ambitious albums in the band’s catalog.
2. One Of These Nights
In 1973, the Eagles earned their first No.1 album in the US with One Of These Nights. There’s still plenty of nods to the band’s country roots (most noticeably on the Grammy Award-winning hillbilly heartbreaker Lyin’ Eyes) but their transition to a rockier sound is very much underway. The shift would soon lead to founding member Bernie Leadon’s departure, with Randy Meisner following shortly after. But for now, any tensions are far from apparent, with the album boasting one of the most consistently solid tracklists of the Eagles’ career. It’s just a shame that, within the year, it would be almost completely eclipsed by the band’s next album.
1. Hotel California
Don Henley has described Hotel California as a concept album. Others have simply called it one of the best albums to emerge from the 1970s. Newcomer Joe Walsh proved an incredibly fine addition to the lineup, acting as a grounding anchor for the band as they embarked on their coke-fueled fantasies while also dishing up one of their all-time greatest songs – the sublime Life in the Fast Lane. Expertly conceived and flawlessly executed, the album was a critical and commercial juggernaut, reaching No. 1 on Billboard’s Top LPs & Tapes chart, spawning two No. 1 singles, and picking up two Grammys. According to Wikipedia, it’s since become one of the best-selling albums of all time, certifying 26x platinum in the US and selling over 32 million units worldwide.