Asylum, 1972

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Rolling Stone reported in 2016 that, when Glenn Frey and the Eagles turned in their sophomore effort Desperado, Jerry Greenberg of Atlantic Records declared, “Jeez, they’ve made a fucking cowboy album!”

Apparently, Mr. Greenberg hadn’t paid attention to their first album or where the group came from. The Eagles were one of the proponents of LA country rock, so making an album that was heavy on the Western motif (but hardly a country album) shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone. Building on the success of their debut effort, there might have been precious few songs that were single material on this one, but it did solidify the Eagles as a band.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

This album is best known for two songs—one of which was never formally released as a single. That would be “Desperado,” a track that has been covered ad nauseam by other artists, but has a gentle feel to it delivered lovingly by the band and topped perfectly by Don Henley’s vocals. When it’s heard in its natural album setting, it fits well.

The only single, “Tequila Sunrise,” isn’t the strongest track on the disc, surprisingly, but it’s still fairly good. A better choice might have been “Out Of Control,” which would have dispersed any misgivings about Desperado being a country or cowboy album.

Not that there isn’t a country-fried flavor to many of the songs on Desperado, with “Doolin’ Dalton” (which gets not one, but two partial reprises through the course of the album—kinda wonder whether that was really necessary) and “Bitter Creek” being prime examples. But their presence should not have been surprising, as instrumentation like banjo was present on their self-titled effort. Very much a product of their upbringing, the genre fits the Eagles perfectly on this disc.

Some listeners might shy away from Desperado simply because there are only two very well-known songs on the disc. But to do so is to do both themselves and the album a disservice, as it’s a key element that was needed for the eventual transition of the Eagles from country-pop to AOR (though they’d never truly lose the storytelling aspect of country-pop in their songwriting).

It’s an intriguing listen—and, at just under 36 minutes, another short one—but there’s plenty on Desperado awaiting rediscovery that makes giving it a chance in the CD deck well worth your time.

Rating: B+

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