The Eagles Albums Ranked

Eagles Albums

Photo: karstenknuth, Attribution, via Wikimedia Commons

Our Eagles albums ranked article looks at a band that we wish quite frankly had released more albums than they did. The Eagles are one of the most loved bands in classic rock history. The band first arrived on the scene in 1972 with the release of their debut album entitled Eagles. The album spawned a monster hit in the song “Take It Easy,” which turned the band into a household name instantly. The group’s original lineup of Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner generated a loyal following right from the start. The Eagles followed up their debut album with the album Desperado released a year later in 1973. The same lineup appeared on their second album. The third album release from the band was issued in 1974 entitled On The Border. This album saw the addition of guitarist Don Felder on some tracks.

While The Eagles had already achieved great commercial success, they were primed to  raise the bar even more commercially on the next release entitled One Of These Nights in 1975. It would become The Eagles most successful commercial album up to that point. And just when you thought this super band had peaked, a year later they released the album of their career with Hotel California in 1976. An album that stands as one of the greatest rock records released during the 1970s. The arrival of Joe Walsh had definitely inspired the band to new artistic heights.

The Eagles took their longest time in between albums up to that point in following up Hotel California. To be fair, how do you follow up one of the greatest albums of all time. It was like Bruce Springsteen having to follow up Born To Run, Pink Floyd following up Dark Side of The Moon or The Beatles following up just about everyone of their albums. The Eagles followed up their 1976 Hotel California album with the release of the lp The Long Run in 1979. It was a good record, successful record, but it did not compare to their previous release.

The Long Run would be their final full length studio album for a long time – twenty eight years to be exact. In fact, when asked would the Eagles ever record again? the phrase “when Hell freezes over was often mentioned.” It was all over for The Eagles until 1994 when they reunited for the release of a live album and four new studio tracks on the record appropriately titled Hell Freezes Over. 13 years later in 2007 The Eagles released their first full-length studio album since 1979 entitled Long Road Out of Eden.

As of this writing in 2021, Long Road Out of Eden remains the final Eagles studio album. Sadly, in 2016 The Eagles founding member and much-loved musician and vocalist Glenn Frey passed away. The Eagles have continued on touring with Glenn Frey’s son Deacon Frey and country music star Vince Gill taking Glenn Frey’s place on stage. Only time will tell if The Eagles ever record another studio album again.

Our Eagles albums ranked article is simply a fun exercise in choosing our favorite Eagles albums. It’s a combination of taste, subjectivity and of course commercial success in the way we picked them. In the end, we recommend those of you who don’t have any of them to acquire all of them for your collection.

The Eagles were a band that everyone loved and still do. Like The Beatles, their music crossed generations and defied being placed in any one category. The evidence is very clear in how much they are loved because The Eagles Greatest Hits album remains the biggest selling album of all time.

# 8 – Hell Freezes Over

We open up our Eagles albums article with a live album release that included four new studio tracks. Normally we don’t put a live album on a studio album list, but this was the first album to feature four new Eagles songs in 15 years. The new ones included the tracks “Get Over It,” “Love Will Keep Us Alive,” “The Girl from Yesterday,” and “Learn To Be Still.” The lineup on the record featured Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Don Felder, Joe Walsh and Timothy B Schmit. The boys were back together again and it felt good, and totally unexpected.

# 7 – Long Road Out of Eden

The Eagles returned in 2007 with their first new studio album in 28 years entitled Long Road Out of Eden. On their 2007 album, The Eagles were back to being a quartet. The record featured Don Henley, Joe Walsh and Timothy B Schmit. Time had accumulated many songs by the various songwriters in the band. The amount of material available for the Eagles album resulted in The Eagles first double length studio release. The album was a major success for the Eagles hitting number one on the Billboard Album Charts, winning multiple Grammys and becoming the biggest selling album of 2007. The singles “How Long,” and “Busy Being Fabulous,” were the biggest hits off the record.

# 6 – The Long Run

The Eagles album The Long Run was one of the most highly anticipated albums of the 1970s. After the massive success of Hotel California, fans wondered what the Eagles would come up with next. The first change was the departure of Randy Meisner and the arrival of Timothy B. Schmit. The new member of The Eagles found himself as the lead vocalist on one of the album’s biggest hits entitled “I Can’t Tell You Why.” The song was  released as the third single from the record in February of 1980 and broke the Billboard Hot 100’s top 10 peaking at number eight. The song “Heartache Tonight, was the album’s lead single. It was a huge hit hitting number one on the US Billboard Hot 100. You can’t do any better with a follow-up than a number one single and that’s what The Eagles did.

The second single from The Long Run album was the title track. It was also a top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100. The three straight top 10 singles helped the Eagles achieve tremendous commercial success with their follow-up album The Long Run. Joe Walsh’s “In the City,” was a particular fan-favorite and was also featured in the movie The Warriors. All in all, a great album with a somewhat updated sound that had clearly moved away from the band’s county overtones found on their first four albums.

# 5 – Eagles

At number five on our Eagles albums list is the band’s grand debut album simply titled Eagles. The album was released in 1972. It contained three big hits singles in the songs “Take It Easy, Witchy Woman and Peaceful Easy Feeling.” Take It Easy became a top 20 hit but the songs status over the long run turned the song into one of The Eagles signature songs. They can thank Jackson Browne who wrote the song for that. The album’s first side closed out with another great Jackson Browne song entitled “Nightingale.”

The album featured Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner as the musicians and songwriters who made up The Eagles at the time. At times ,the album was a bit uneven, but in the end who could complain when you think of some of the major hits that came out of their debut album.The potential of this band was cleary staring at us head on.

# 4 – On the Border

The Eagles On The Border was the band’s third album release. The group opted for a bit of a harder sound on this one. It could be heard instantly in the rocking opening track entuited “Already Gone,” and side two’s “James Dean.” The album also included a great cover version of Tom Waits “Ol 55.” Although the band may have been trying to rock out or at least stray more away from their country roots, it was the county sounding mid tempo ballad “Best Of My Love,” which became the album’s biggest hit. It also became the Eagles first number one single on the Billboard Hot 100. The album On The Border was released in 1974.

# 3 – Desperado

In 1973, the Eagles released their second album entitled Desperado. The album was a major step forward artistically for the band. Desperado would become one of the greatest country rock albums ever released. While it wasn’t a concept album, the songs  fit together beautifully tying together a somewhat outlaw theme that the album cover picture depicted. The album opened with the track “Doolin-Dalton” which remains one of the most underrated Eagles songs they ever released. It was a song written by Don Henley, Glenn Frey, JD Souther and Jackson Browne with lead vocals shared by both Don Henley and Glenn Frey.

The album’s fourth track entitled “Tequila Sunrise,” written by Don Henley and Glenn Frey became became the album’s hit single. Nonetheless, it was the song that followed “Tequila Sunrise,”  on the LP’s first side entitled “Desperado,” that deeply resonated with most fans. It stands as one of the most powerful vocals Don Henley has ever recorded on vinyl. The song has been covered numerous times by various artists including Johnny Cash, Judy Collins, Kenny Rogers, Diana Krall, The Carpenters and Clint Black. Perhaps the greatest version of them all was recorded by Linda Ronstadt who had a massive hit with her 1973 single.

# 2 – One of These Nights

The Eagles took it to the limit on their great 1975 album One Of These Nights. The limit being a number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 as the Eagles album One Of These Nights became their first number one album of their career. The album featured three huge hit singles including “One Of These Nights, Lying Eyes and Take It To The Limit.” The album’s lead single “One Of These Nights, hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 giving the Eagles their second number one record of their career. Everything just seemed to work well on this one. You couldn’t turn on the radio in 1975 without hearing “One Of These Nights, or Lying Eyes. The album just dominated pop culture at the midpoint of the decade. We thought the Eagles had peaked, but a year later they proved us wrong.

# 1 – Hotel California

In the number one spot on our Eagles albums list is the legendary album Hotel California. It’s hard to put in writing how big this album was when it was released in 1976. It was released at the end of the year in December just in time for people to buy it as holiday presents. However, the album would dominate the charts in 1977. Hotel California was the album which saw the arrival of Joe Walsh in the band. I dont think anyone understood the impact that Joe Walsh would have on the band and how big the album Hotel California would become.

The first single to be released from the album was the gorgeous song “New Kid In Town.” The song was written by Don Henley, Glenn Frey and J.D. Souther. The lead vocals were sung by Glenn Frey while Don Henley contributed stunning harmonies. The song went straight to number one on the Billboard Hot 100. It also hit number one in Canada. “New Kid In Town,” won a Grammy Award for Best Vocal Arrangement for Two Or More Voices. Awards and chart performance aside, “New Kid In Town” is just a spectacular song written so well. It just one of those songs that you never get sick of listening too and somehow everyone can relate too. A true musical gem.

And then there is the title track. How does one describe “Hotel California’s” stirring acoustic guitar opening? Just the opening licks alone have become legendary. The song was written by Don Felder, Don Henley and Glenn Frey. The lead vocals was performed by Don Henley in one of his most mesmerising performances. In fact, every time Don Henley got behind a microphone it was an astonishing performance. There are very few singers in rock and roll that have the range, chops, resonance and special vocal attributes that Don Henley has. The song “Hotel California,” became the album’s second straight number one single on the Billboard Hot 100. That was very impressive considering the competition in 1977 from albums such as Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, Billy Joel’s The Stranger, Steely Dan’s Aja, the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack and so many more. What a year it was!

Joe Walsh’s impact was clearly felt on the album’s third single “Life In The Fast Lane.” The song written by Joe Walsh, Don Henley and Glenn Frey broke the Billboard Top 20 peaking at number 11. Joe Walsh’s guitar work and lead vocal performance was off the charts on this one and just elevated the Eagles legacy to an entire new plane.

One cannot fail to mention all the other great songs on the album. From Don Henley’s extraordinary vocal performance on “Wasted Time,” across his rocking “Victim of Love,” to his breathtaking album finale “The Last Resort,” Henley and the rest of The Eagles had delivered their most astonishing performances ever on record. The 1970s were a magical time for the arts and the Eagles Hotel California was one of the decades most defining moments.

The Eagles Albums Ranked Article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021

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