|Released June 1, 1972|
Genre Country rock folk rock
|Recorded February 1972|
|Studio Olympic Studios, London|
Eagles is the debut studio album by the rock band the Eagles. The album was recorded at London's Olympic Studios with producer Glyn Johns and released in 1972. The album was an immediate success for the young band reaching No. 22 on the charts and going platinum. Three singles were released from the album, each reaching the Top 40: "Take It Easy" (No. 12), "Witchy Woman" (No. 9), and "Peaceful Easy Feeling" (No. 22). The band, starting with this album, played a major role in popularizing the country rock sound.
The album was ranked number 368 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time published in 2012. The single "Take It Easy" is part of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame "500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll". This album was slated for Quadraphonic release and even given a Quadraphonic catalog number but it was never released in that format.
In 1971, the band had just been formed and signed by David Geffen, who then sent them to Aspen, Colorado, to develop as a band. For their first album, Glyn Johns was chosen as the producer by Glenn Frey, as Johns had produced a number of rock albums they liked, by bands such as The Rolling Stones, The Who and Led Zeppelin. Johns was invited by Geffen to see the band perform at a club called Tulagi in Boulder, Colorado, in December 1971. Johns, however, was not impressed by the band's live performance, thinking that the band was confused and lacking in cohesion — Frey wanted it to be a rock & roll band while Bernie Leadon wanted a country feel — so Johns declined to produce the album. Johns was persuaded by Geffen to have a second listen in a rehearsal setting in Los Angeles, but Johns did not change his opinion of the band until all four started singing harmonies with acoustic guitar on a ballad written by Meisner, "Take The Devil". Johns was impressed by their harmony singing, and later said: "There it was, the sound. Extraordinary blend of voices, wonderful harmony sound, just stunning." Johns emphasized the vocal blend of the band and has been credited with shaping the band into "the country-rock band with those high-flyin' harmonies".
The band went to London where they spent two weeks recording the album at the Olympic Studios. The album cost $125,000 to produce. Johns tried to introduce a more acoustic sound in the recording, and concentrated on the vocal blend and arrangements. Frey later admitted: "He was the key to our success in a lot of ways", but added: "We just didn’t want to make another limp-wristed L.A. country-rock record." As a result, there were frequent disagreements over the sound of the band between the producer and Frey and Don Henley during the making of the album. Frey and Henley wanted a rougher rock and roll sound, while Johns was interested in using Bernie Leadon's banjo and Randy Meisner's bass to create a more country sound. On "Take It Easy", Johns got Leadon to play double-time banjo on the song, a little touch that Johns felt made the song different.
Three of the songs recorded in London feature Frey on lead vocals, another three with Meisner and two with Leadon. The chirping sound at the start of the song by Leadon and Meisner, "Earlybird", was taken from a sound-effect library.
Originally, Henley only had one song on the album, namely "Witchy Woman". Later, a further track, "Nightingale", was recorded in Los Angeles after Geffen and manager Elliot Roberts listened to the tape of the album and decided that it needed another song with Henley on lead vocals. Johns had previously recorded a few takes of the song in London, but abandoned it as he felt it did not work. Geffen tried to get the song recorded with another production team, and Johns, angered by the attempt to record "Nightingale" behind his back, then re-recorded the song with the band at Wally Heider's Studio 3 in Hollywood. Even though Johns judged this recording unsatisfactory, it was included in the album.
Album cover artist Gary Burden with photography by Henry Diltz were responsible for the album artwork. In the documentary History of the Eagles, Glenn Frey revealed that the band were all on peyote when the pictures for the album cover were shot in Joshua Tree National Park. The album was initially designed as a gatefold album that would further open up into a poster, however Geffen thought it would be confusing, and glued it together so that it would not open, and the gatefold image of the band members at Joshua Tree then became orientated the wrong side up.
Robert Christgau felt that the band wrote good songs, but he was unsure about the authenticity of their country roots so what they produced was "suave and synthetic--brilliant, but false." Bud Scoppa of Rolling Stone on the other hand, reviewing in 1972, felt that they had "distinguished" country-rock backgrounds, and wrote: "The Eagles is right behind Jackson Browne's record as the best first album this year. And I could be persuaded to remove the word "first" from that statement."
Allmusic's William Ruhlmann, in his retrospective review, sums up the album as balanced in terms of songwriting, however noting that the three hit singles were sung by Frey and Henley who would later go on to dominate the band. Rolling Stone listed it as number 368 on their "500 Greatest Albums" with the comment that the album "created a new template for laid-back L.A. country-rock style". It was included in Robert Dimery's 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.
The album debuted on the Billboard 200 chart at No. 102 in its first week of release, rising at No. 22 in its sixth week on the chart. The album certified Gold by the RIAA on January 22, 1974, then Platinum on March 20, 2001 for shipment of 1 million copies in the United States.