I’ll never forget the first time I heard an Eagles song. Way-y-y back in the spring of 1973, I was 21 years old and a senior in college. Even then, I had a passion for music; I would have either a radio or a phonograph playing nearly all the time. One day, while listening to our local FM radio station, I heard a new song that was then getting quite a bit of airplay – a ballad of sorts, sung in a beautiful high tenor voice: “It’s another Tequila Sunrise, staring slowly ‘cross the sky…”
That was all it took for me to become a zealous fan of the Eagles. The very next day I bought their first two albums, The Eagles and Desperado.
Nearly forty years have gone by now, and I’m still as much of an avid Eagles fan as I ever was! I still have that very first record album I bought in ’73; since then, I’ve added most of the rock group’s other recordings as well, all now on compact disc (CD). My most often played Eagles album is Eagles: The Very Best Of, a compilation of 33 songs written and recorded by the Eagles from 1972 to 2001. This two-CD set usually finds its way into my mail van’s CD player at least twice a week.
Eagles: The Very Best Of was originally released by Warner Brothers in 2003. As this album’s title claims, Eagles: The Very Best Of does indeed contain the very best of everything the Eagles had recorded up to 2001.
The album’s producers carefully selected the best songs from the Eagles’ first seven albums and placed them in chronological order on two compact discs. Disc 1 begins with the Eagles’ first mega-hit, “Take it Easy” and ends 73 minutes later with “Hotel California.” Disc 1 contains all of the Eagles’ greatest hits from 1972 through 1975, including: “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” “Lyin’ Eyes,” and “One of These Nights.” Also included are a few interesting choices from that period that weren’t huge hits: “Doolin-Dalton,” “James Dean,” “Ol’ 55,” and “After the Thrill is Gone.” I think these are absolutely superb choices for any anthology of Eagles songs.
At the outset of Disc 2 are more tracks from the Eagles’ greatest album of all time, Hotel California. The second CD gets off to a rollicking start with “Life in the Fast Lane” and continues for another 71 minutes with huge hits like “The Last Resort” and “New Kid in Town.” The disc finishes on a somber note with a bonus song: “Hole in the World,” written in commemoration of the events of September 11, 2001. Several interesting “non-hits” also populate Disc 2, most notably: “Those Shoes,” “In the City,” and “The Sad Café.”
Eagles: The Very Best Of isn’t really a “greatest hits” album per se; it is, however, the finest anthology of Eagles music available today. Not all of the songs contained in this compilation were released as singles, and therefore don’t qualify as “greatest hits.” That means listeners get to hear not only all of the Eagles’ brilliantly performed mega-hits; they also get to hear some of their lesser known but equally superb “non-hits” as well.
Listeners will be able to quickly discern The Eagles’ evolution from a country-rock band in the early 1970s, with their flowing vocal harmonies, to the edgier hard-rock band they became in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Listeners can also recognize the band’s personnel changes over the years: Randy Meisner’s soaring lead vocal on 1975’s “Take It to the Limit;” Joe Walsh’s whiskey-soaked voice belting out 1979’s “In the City” and Timothy B. Schmit’s exquisitely refined tenor voice singing two of the Eagles’ most beautiful love ballads, “I Can’t Tell You Why” (1980) and “Love Will Keep Us Alive” (1994).
The audio quality of Eagles: The Very Best Of is, of course, superb! All of the songs are digitally remastered; the audio is crisp and sharp without sounding too bright; sound engineers did a masterful job of achieving and maintaining an excellent balance between vocals and musical instruments. This allows the Eagles’ trademark vocal harmonies to be heard distinctly on all songs, right alongside the robust guitar playing of Joe Walsh, Glenn Frey, and Timothy B. Schmit, and the drums of Don Henley.
MY VERDICT: Eagles: The Very Best Of is unquestionably the best compilation of Eagles songs ever recorded. It contains 33 of the Eagles’ most outstanding songs, all brilliantly performed and expertly recorded. It’s “classic rock” entertainment at its very best, and a “must-own” for all Eagles fans!
EAGLES: THE VERY BEST OF PLAY LIST
Take it Easy
Peaceful Easy Feeling
The Best of My Love
On the Border
One of These Nights
Take It to the Limit
After the Thrill is Gone
Life in the Fast lane
Victim of Love
The last Resort
New Kid in Town
Please Come Home for Christmas
The Sad Café
I Can’t Tell You Why
The Long Run
In the City
Seven Bridges Road (Live)
Love Will Keep Us Alive
Get Over it
Hole in the World
Eagles: The Very Best Of Booklet (included with CD set)
Eagles biography – allmusic.com article
Eagles: The Very Best Of Review – allmusic.com article
Personal listening experience