Eagles: Desperado (1973)

[Kronomyth 2.0]
A Tequila Sunrise and a Few Shots of Coffeyville.

An ambitious country-rock quasi-concept album based on the real adventures of the Doolin-Dalton Gang. Some fans cite this as their favorite Eagles album, presumably the same people who were happy to see them ride with the Outlaws. Over the years, the hits “Tequila Sunrise” and “Desperado” have remained pristine while the rest of the tracks have grown dusty. In my opinion, there isn’t an Eagles album that doesn’t have its share of hidden treasures. In this case, it’s “Outlaw Man” (originally the second single), “Doolin-Dalton” and “Bitter Creek.” Though the album obviously has a pronounced country feel, the sophisticated harmonies and smart production suggest a hybrid of Byrds, Neil Young and Steely Dan: romantic, ragged and smug. I’ve had a similar reaction to other sepia-toned works like Tumbleweed Connection, Workingman’s Dead and Pretzel Logic. Concept albums are always a challenge because linear storytelling and songwriting pull the writer into two different directions. Do you write the music around the plot or hope that a plot takes shape through the music? Eagles put their talents on the table, cross their collective fingers and roll the dice that our familiarity with the outlaw archetype will fill in the gaps. And in fact Desperado looks beyond Bill Doolin to paint an everyman outlaw. The faithless woman, the final showdown, the studied gunslinger are archetypical elements that don’t appear to be part of the original Bill Doolin legend. Even in the confines of a cowboy album, Eagles show off a variety of styles. Listen to “Out of Control” trample over the ending of “Twenty-One,” and it’s like hearing the country and rock factions of Eagles at war with one another. We know which side eventually won that battle, but at the time Eagles appeared to be the second coming of The Byrds. Today, the legend of Desperado lives on as a paean to past outlaws, a memorial from the new gunslingers to the old.

Original LP Version
A1. Doolin-Dalton (Glenn Frey/J.D. Souther/Don Henley/Jackson Browne) (3:26)
A2. Twenty-One (Bernie Leadon) (2:11)
A3. Out of Control (Don Henley/Glenn Frey/Tom Nixon) (3:04)
A4. Tequila Sunrise (Don Henley/Glenn Frey) (2:52)
A5. Desperado (Don Henley/Glenn Frey) (3:33)
B1. Certain Kind of Fool (Randy Meisner/Don Henley/Glenn Frey) (3:02)
B2. Doolin-Dalton (instrumental) (Glenn Frey/J.D. Souther/Don Henley/Jackson Browne) (0:48)
B3. Outlaw Man (David Blue) (3:34)
B4. Saturday Night (Randy Meisner/Don Henley/Glenn Frey/Bernie Leadon) (3:20)
B5. Bitter Creek (Bernie Leadon) (5:00)
B6. Doolin-Dalton/Desperado (Reprise) (Glenn Frey/J.D. Souther/Don Henley/Jackson Browne) (4:50)

The Players
Glenn Frey (acoustic & electric guitars, vocals, keyboards, harmonica), Don Henley (drums, vocals, acoustic guitar), Bernie Leadon (electric & acoustic guitars, vocals, banjo, mandolin, dobro), Randy Meisner (bass, vocals) with Jim Ed Norman (string arrangements). Produced & engineered by Glyn Johns.

The Pictures
Photography & lettering by Henry Diltz. Art direction & design by Gary Burden for R. Twerk.

The Plastic
Released on elpee and cassette on April 17, 1973 in the US (Asylum, SD/CS 5068), the UK (Asylum, SYL/MTCSYL-9011) and Japan (Asylum, IAP-80812); reached #41 on the US charts (RIAA-certified double platinum record) and #39 on the UK charts.

  1. Re-issued on elpee in Taiwan (Living Record, LM-2557).
  2. Re-issued on elpee and 8-track in June 1976 in the UK (Asylum, K/K8-53008) and Germany (Asylum, AS-53008).
  3. Re-issued on elpee in the 1970s in Japan (Asylum, P-6557Y).
  4. Re-issued on elpee in Japan (Asylum, P-10047Y).
  5. Re-issued on compact disc in the US (Asylum, 5068-2).
  6. Re-issued on compact disc in Japan (Asylum, 20P2-2013).
  7. Re-issued on compact disc and cassette in the US and Australia (Asylum, 60627).
  8. Re-issued on compact disc in Japan (Asylum, WPCR-11933).
  9. Re-issued on compact disc in Japan (Asylum, WPCR-75127).
  10. Re-released on remastered super high material compact disc on December 20, 2008 in Japan (Asylum, WPCR-13235).
  11. Re-issued on remastered SHMCD on February 23, 2011 in Japan (Asylum, WPCR-14079).
  12. Re-released on 180g vinyl elpee in 2014 in the US (Asylum, RRM1-5068).

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