Poco, Rick Nelson & The Stone Canyon Band, Gram Parsons, The Byrds, and The Buffalo Springfield explored the fusion of country and rock music with moderate to very good commercial results. It was the Eagles, however, that grabbed the brass ring. They added a polish and sheen to this country/rock sound that was embraced by tens of millions of fans and would enable them to become one of the top-selling groups in music history and an enduring concert attraction.
Listening to their first and self-titled album made me realize how accustomed I had become to their greatest hits. It also made me realize that many of their less famous songs were very strong in and of themselves and deserved more lasting attention than they received.
Eagles find the group’s beautiful harmonies already in place. Bernie Leadon’s guitar work is stellar. That fact plus his vocals makes you realize why he was such an important part of their early sound.
The album is best remembered for the three hit singles which still receive extensive radio airplay. “Take It Easy” and “Peaceful Easy Feeling” remain smooth and enjoyable 37 years after their release. Glyn Johns got the production just right and the lyrics tell the story of love in an easygoing and inoffensive way. “Witchy Woman” is more haunting as Don Henley’s lead vocal floats against the harmonies.
The lesser-known songs make Eagles one of the better debut albums of the seventies. “Nightingale” is a rocker with tight harmonies. ‘Train Leaves The Station” may actually be the best track on the album as Leadon’s guitar and vocal are terrific. “Take The Devil” finds Randy Meisner pushing the group in a harder direction than usual. “Earlybird” has almost a bluegrass feel to it. “Chug All Night” may not be from the south, but it is southern fried type rock at its best.
It all adds up to a tremendously solid album. It holds up well and remains enjoyable nearly four decades after its release. If you want to explore the music of the Eagles, this is the place to start.