“He who hesitates is lunch”
These “secret” words are found on one of the Eagles great albums – recorded in 1974 – a year that began with the four members of the band….and ended with five:
Time to look at the turmoil that surrounded the release of the Eagles third album – a collection of music that showed the band showcasing a new, harder edge – AND containing their first #1 song as well!
The Eagles “On The Border!”
After the success of their first album – and the commercial failure of their second – the Eagles knew they had to re-think their music. The result was “On the Border” – and album that saw their Record Producer Glyn Johns leave the project after only two songs were recorded.
The album was initially produced by Glyn Johns and recorded at Olympic Studios, London, but during the making of the album, it was clear there was a problem. The band’s second album is a beautiful record, with two of their best songs – “Tequila Sunrise” and “Desperado”…
The album didn’t sell well, however, and the band decided it was time for a harder, more rock-focused approach – but Glyn Johns didn’t agree!
As Glenn Frey said about the recording sessions:
“We just didn’t want to make another limp-wristed L.A. country-rock record. They were all too smooth and glassy. We wanted a tougher sound.”
After six weeks in the studio, the band decided it was time for a change, so they said goodbye to Johns, with only two usable tracks, “Best of My Love” and “You Never Cry Like a Lover”.
The band headed back home to California, and hired Bill Szymczyk to produce the rest of the album. It was exactly the right choice for the band.
That’s Szymczyk in the Broncos jersey. These photos are by Henry Diltz, who captured the band throughout their incredible career. The Producer loved the harder edge that the band wanted, and he suggested they bring in a harder-edged guitarist to add slide guitar to the song “Good Day in Hell”.
Bernie Leadon suggested his buddy Don Felder, and after he began playing with them, the band invited Felder to become the fifth Eagle. The only other track he played on was the first song, “Already Gone”. They credited him as a late arrival on the album’s liner notes!
That’s why the album’s inner sleeve photo only has the original four members of the band! I love the iconic cover of the album, and I also loved the stylized graphics that list the songs on the back of the album.
Here is an amazing live performance of the album’s first song, the classic rocker “Already Gone” from the 1974 California Jam concert – full of great energy:
Thanks to the OntarioMotorSpeedway youtube channel for this classic, which is from the CaliforniaJamFanClub.com.
The band was clearly having a great time, and that first song is a classic.
The Eagles Soar To The Top Of The Charts!
The album includes the classic Eagles song, “Best of My Love”, which became the band’s first #1 single. Here is a beautiful live version from 1977:
Of course, the single was noticeably shorter than the song that’s on the album, because the record label edited the song before releasing it – without telling the band!
The Eagles Have A Hidden Groove!
Hers a fun fact I came across on wikipedia: this is the first album by the Eagles to be released in Quadraphonic surround sound. There is a hidden message carved into the run out groove on some of the original vinyl LPs that reads:
“He who hesitates is lunch”.
Here is a look at each song on the album, along with the songwriters. As you can see, a lot of the band’s friends contributed to the songwriting effort:
“Already Gone” (Jack Tempchin, Robb Strandlund)
“You Never Cry Like a Lover” (J.D. Souther, Don Henley)
“Midnight Flyer” (Paul Craft)
“My Man” (Bernie Leadon)
“On the Border” (Henley, Leadon, Glenn Frey)
“James Dean” (Jackson Browne, Frey, Souther, Henley)
Here is a great live performance of “James Dean” from that California Jam concert in 1974!
“Ol’ ’55” (Tom Waits)
“Is It True?” (Randy Meisner)
“Good Day in Hell” (Henley, Frey)
“Best of My Love” (Henley, Frey, Souther)
After the success of this album, the band never looked back…”On The Border” shows the band maturing in their sound, with a harder edge helped by the addition of Don Felder, and the music holds up more than 40 years later!
I posted a story about the beginning of the Eagles, and Linda Ronstadt’s memories of them as her friends – and backing band!
You can see that story here:
It was a memorable time in music history, and the band would go on to write some of the best songs in rock…
Fans were stunned by the death of Glenn Frey, and here is a story of how he and Don Henley wrote “Lyin’ Eyes”:
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Leave a comment to let me know your favorite “On The Border” song!