(Part 2 of a 2 part series in which, the great, 1537 visits some of the most obscure, hard-to-find indie releases in his collection for your audio delectation)
I bet this one’s worth a bomb, surely no-one else ever bought a copy of the collected works of these obscure adopted Californians – sometimes I just have no idea how I get hold of these rarities, curios and obscurios. So here it is, probably the only copy of Eagles Their Greatest Hits in the UK.
You know that fact that gets trotted out that in a city you’re only ever three feet away from a rat? I reckon you could replace the word ‘rat’ in that sentence with ‘the most commercially successful recorded output of the Eagles’, shorten the distance to two feet and it’d be 92% truer. That this baby was released the year before the eagles released their most successful LP and single just boggles my ding-dong. If they’d waited a year they could have elbowed off two of the wimpier ones from Side 2 and stuck ‘… Fast Lane’ and that one about the motel on it too.
I was given this LP back in September 2010 by a very kind chap called John who kindly gave me first dibs on a pile of records he was getting rid of, but I’ve known this music all my life. It’s in perfect condition too, he sure looked after his albums and I have always loved all the early Eagles LP covers, this one particularly – I really dig all the indentation all around the edge of the LP and the embossed skull on the front*. I was reading that the band thought it looked like the skull was resting on ‘a mountain of blow’, apparently that wasn’t intentional but damn pertinent anyway.
I have to say that Their Greatest Hits only really has three tracks on it that quicken my heartbeat, there are so many genius LP cuts that you could whack onto a ‘Best Of’ – I mean my fave two are ‘Journey of the Sorcerer’ which for several years when I was a small kid was my favourite piece of music in the whole wide world** and the greasy rocker ‘Chug All Night’^. Unfortunately, because this is Their Greatest Hits I find that it favours the softer country/pop/pap/rock hybrids and that teeters dangerously on the edge of bland for me.
But I will forever love ‘Take It Easy’, it’s not a voluntary thing either – I just do; it’s hard-wired in me. It is The Eagles in one hit, everything you need to know is right there, they’re selling us a whole lifestyle and ethos and hot damn it is an attractive product! Everything is right, the lyrics, the music and the phrasing, plus I have a real thing for American place names in songs Winslow, Arizona is definitely up there with Memphis, Tennessee and Nazareth, Pennsylvania for me. Let’s face it ‘Take It easy’ would have lost some of it’s sun-soaked good timesyness had you set it in Wales,
Well, I’m standing on the corner in Llandrindod Wells
Rain hammering down on me
It’s a girl, my Lord, in a clapped-out Ford
As disinterested as she could be
See? it just doesn’t quite have that joie de vive and raw sunshine that would endear it to generations. I reach for this on sunny days the way some misguided folk reach for the Beach Boys.
‘Witchy Woman’ is another thriller for me. It has just the right balance of drama, machismo and ridiculousness, which is no mean feat when you think about it. This one always reminds me of Fleetwood mac at their Peter Green best, the offspring from a late night coupling between a green manalishi and an albatross. There’s even a timely reminder of the evils of a certain white drug, ‘she drove herself to madness with a silver spoon’. The other Their Greatest Hits, umm, hit with me is the slinky, sinuous ‘One Of These Nights’, which pulls off the neat trick of reminding me pleasantly of the Bee Gees*^, albeit one with some phat guitar action. So good that I could feel myself shedding any moral stability before the coda, wobbling to my feet in my tight flared jeans and expensive hand-tooled cowboy boots, my aviator shades reflecting the dying sun hitting the Pacific, Margarita in my gnarled hand.
Now I have to confess to a violent allergy to country music^* and so the gentler, pop-country-inflected tones of ‘Tequila Sunrise’ and ‘Peaceful Easy Feeling’ bring me out in an intimate rash, although ‘Desperado’ has started to creep through my defences. Great cover art aside, I really don’t see why the Eagles Their Greatest Hits has sold so many copies, especially only 4 years into their career, I fear it was just the convenience of not having to shuffle between four LPs to find your favourite paeans to shady good times in the sun; give me convenience, or give me death indeed.
This LP is never going to make an Eagles believer out of an Eagles doubter, but it can be an easy good time which is another reason 29 garglezillion of you folks have bought it. Most of the time that’s not enough for me, but occasionally it just might be.
*embossing gets double bonus points hereabouts.
**because of the radio and TV adaptations of The Hitch Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy.
^First three tracks on the first Eagles LP? Take It easy, Witchy Woman and Chug All Night. That’s a pretty damn fine statement of intent.
*^things you think you’ll never type without someone threatening your immediate family #21.
^*and no, Johnny Cash doesn’t count – he’s different. And neither does the Willard Grant Conspiracy because they are rootsy and fucking great.