[Review] Eagles: On The Border (1974)

More studio rock than country rock, Eagles’ third otherwise returns to the winning formula of their first album.

Kronomyth 3.0: You already had me at Already Gone.

This is somewhere on the border between country rock and sophisticated studio rock. The range is remarkable sometimes, and it’s no accident. Eagles were patterned after The Byrds, who had an arsenal of ideas (and styles) at their disposal. Once again, it’s Don Henley and Glenn Frey who make the biggest marks. Henley’s “The Best of My Love” gave Eagles their first #1 hit, while Frey tapped Jack Tempchin again for what has to be one of the greatest kiss-off songs of all time, “Already Gone.” Elsewhere, “James Dean” deflates the legend with a cranky cuteness (sorry, that’s best I could do), Randy Meisner contributes the likeable “Is It True” (with shades of George Harrison’s country delivery) and Don Henley puts on his city clothes for the sophisticated title track (which would have been my choice for the third single).

Personalities begin to crystallize on this record that cover the full spectrum from country to rock: Meisner and Leadon at the one end, Henley at the other, with Frey in the middle and new guy Don Felder in the background (as much as possible for a lead guitarist, anyway). Personally, I’m less interested in the country stylings of “Midnight Flyer.” But when the band plays country with a clean studio attack (“My Man”), it’s no less effective than Steely Dan’s steel guitar opi (“Pearl of the Quarter,” “Fire In The Hole”). On The Border also marked the beginning of the band’s relationship with producer Bill Szymczyk, who re-recorded most of the tracks that Glyn Johns had already done. The result was a punchier, cleaner sound that would serve them well throughout the ‘70s.

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Original elpee version

A1. Already Gone (Jack Tempchin/Robb Strandlin) (4:13)
A2. You Never Cry Like A Lover (John David Souther/Don Henley) (4:02)
A3. Midnight Flyer (Paul Craft) (3:58)
A4. My Man (Bernie Leadon) (3:30)
A5. On The Border (Don Henley/Bernie Leadon/Glenn Frey) (4:28)
B1. James Dean (Jackson Browne/Glenn Frey/John David Souther/Don Henley) (3:36)
B2. Ol’ 55 (Tom Waits) (4:22)
B3. Is It True? (Randy Meisner) (3:14)
B4. Good Day In Hell (Don Henley/Glenn Frey) (4:27)
B5. Best of My Love (Don Henley/Glenn Frey/John David Souther) (4:35)

The Players

Don Felder (electric guitar, slide guitar), Glenn Frey (vocals, guitars, piano, slide guitar), Don Henley (vocals, drums), Bernie Leadon (vocals, guitars, banjo, steel guitar), Randy Meisner (vocals, bass) with Al Perkins (pedal steel guitar on B2). Produced by Bill Szymczyk except A2/B5 by Glyn Johns; engineered by Bill Szymczyk except A2/B5 by Glyn Johns; remix engineered by Bill Szymczyk.

The Pictures

Cover painting by Beatian Yazz. Art direction & design by Gary Burden for R.Twerk & Company. Photography by Henry Diltz. Lettering by Rick Griffin.

The Plastic

Released on elpee, cassette and 8-track on March 22, 1974 in the US (Asylum, 7E/TC5/ET8-1004), the UK (Asylum, SYL 9016) and Canada (Asylum, 7ES-1004) with poster; reached #17 on the US charts (RIAA-certified double platinum record) and #28 on the UK charts. Also released as quadrophonic elpee in 1974 in the US (Asylum, EQ-1004).

  1. Re-issued on elpee in June 1976 in the UK (Asylum, K 43005), Germany (Asylum, AS 43005) and Italy (Asylum, W43005).
  2. Re-issued on elpee in Japan (Asylum, P-8447Y).
  3. Re-issued on elpee in Japan (Asylum, P-10342Y).
  4. Re-issued on elpee in Yugoslavia (Suzy, ASY43005).
  5. Re-packaged with One of These Nights on 2-for-1 cassette in 1982 (Asylum, 60154).
  6. Re-issued on compact disc in 1983/4 the US (Asylum, 7E-1004-2).
  7. Re-issued on compact disc in the US (Asylum, 60595-2).
  8. Re-released on remastered compact disc in 1999 in the US (Asylum, R2 401276).
  9. Re-issued on remastered compact disc in 2005 in Japan (Asylum, WPCR-75128).
  10. Re-issued on compact disc in 2006 in the UK (Asylum, 70147).
  11. Re-issued on remastered compact disc on July 22, 2015 in Japan (Asylum, WPCR-80231).

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