The Eagles - Selected Works 1972-1999

Rhino 8122796239

This four-CD set, first released in 2000 and now reissued to coincide with the band’s History of the Eagles 2014 UK and Irish tour, captures all of the magic and memories of the finest and most successful country-rock bands of the 1970s. The Eagles, while not pioneers themselves in country-rock, set the standard; all those that followed in their wake knew all too well just what the benchmark was. Much of today’s modern mainstream country music is built upon the sound and style of the Eagles, which makes this collection a vital release. Organised into themed discs, Selected Works encompasses The Early Days, The Ballads, The Fast Lane and a whole CD of previously unreleased tracks recorded New Year’s Eve 1999 at a concert in California—A Night To Remember. The whole thing comes in a compact packaging with extensive sleeve notes by Rolling Stone contributor David Wild, and additional notes by producer Bill Szymcyk, and band member Glenn Frey.

When the Eagles’ first album arrived from the Asylum heights in 1972 it established a new criterion for country-rock. Everyone raved for months until they topped it with DESPERADO, an even better concoction, which firmly established them as an individual musical entity. When the Byrds glided up into acid heaven and the Burritos flew off at a countrified tangent, the Eagles swooped down and built their nest on the finely balanced edge between country and rock. Neither country nor rock dominated their music. The peaceful easy feelin’ rounded off its sharp edges of rock, and the raunch gave a bite to the country numbers.

With powerful, fresh vocal harmonies and crisp melodies, the Eagles blended their country roots (Flying Burrito's, Poco) into an arresting rock format that worked with increasing effectiveness. What set the band apart from countless similar based outfits was that the group could make the simple things click for them efficiently and successfully. Another key factor in their wide-ranging appeal was that they wisely realised that they could enhance other writers’ material to a great degree and not feel they were sacrificing any of their artistry by not totally relying on originals. Surprisingly, one of their best interpretations, Steve Young’s Seven Bridges Road, is conspicuous by its absence on this set. But you do have all the other hits, either in their original form or via live versions; Best Of My Love, New Kid In Town, Take It To the Limit, The Long Run, One Of Those Nights…

Many of their own songs were classic country: Lyin’ Eyes a song about a young girl who hooks herself a rich old man for marital security … ‘but every form of refuge has its price’so she cheats … her husband, her lover and herself. He (her husband) knows where she’s going: ‘yeah, she’s leavin’, headin’ for the cheatin’ side of town.’ This was pure country dressed up in rock garb for the masses, and oh how it worked. Their musicianship was flawless, their vocals precise and their material excellent. What they might have lacked in uniqueness, they more than made up for in, if I may use the word positively, professionalism.

Artistically, they were never a great band, but certainly a very good one with undeniable talent, especially for songwriting, and knew how to use it to their best advantage. Like Elton John, the Carpenters and Phil Collins, the best of their music (and their standards were usually exceptionally high) was high-class pop and nothing more or less. And like those artists, when their quality started to slip, they became merely an MOR band. Just like Kenny Rogers, Jim Reeves, Glen Campbell, The Mavericks and even Tammy, Patsy and Billie Jo, the Eagles succeeded in taking a ‘form’ of country music to the wide pop masses. For that, they should be applauded, because that is the lifeline that country music has always thrived on.