Eagles – Desperado

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  • Wonderfully rich and smooth throughout – both sides earned Double Plus (A++) grades for their crazy good Tubey Magical sound
  • Clean, clear and dynamic, this copy has huge amounts of bass and tremendous space around the guitars and voices
  • Play this pressing against the average copy for a good laugh – the differences will be anything but subtle 
  • An outstanding Glyn Johns recording (with TAS List credentials) that is nothing less than jaw-dropping on a copy as good as this one

This early pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records cannot even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What amazing sides such as these have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1973
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments — piano; electric, acoustic and pedal steel guitars; banjo; bass and drums having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the above.

What to Listen For (WTLF)

Too many instruments and voices jammed into too little space in the upper midrange. When the tonality is shifted-up, even slightly, or there is too much compression, there will be too many elements — voices, guitars, drums — vying for space in the upper area of the midrange, causing congestion and a loss of clarity.

With the smoother, more solid sounding copies, the lower mids are full and rich; above them, the next “level up” so to speak, there’s plenty of space in which to fit all the instruments and vocals (lead and backing) comfortably, without having to pile them up one on top of another as is so often the case with densely mixed pop recordings. On the better copies the upper midrange does not get overwhelmed and congested with too many elements fighting for too little space.

A True Super Disc (Second Only to the First Album in that Respect)

This is the second-best sounding Eagles record of all time, no doubt thanks to the engineering of our man Glyn Johns. Of course, the best sound on an Eagles record is found on the first album. For whatever reason, that record was left off the TAS Super Disc list, even though we feel that both musically and sonically it beats this one by a bit.

On the TAS Super Disc List, Harry Pearson recommends the British SYL pressings for this album. SYL pressings can sound very good; we’ve previously found one that rated a Double Plus on both sides. But our champions for both sides were both domestic, both this time and last time.

Does that mean the best domestics will always beat the best SYL pressings? Not at all. Only critical listening can separate the superb pressings from the typical ones. After playing more than a dozen copies of this album this week, we can definitively tell you that there are FAR more mediocre copies of this record — both domestic and import — than truly exceptional ones. The typical pressing of this album, whether the domestic or SYL, falls far short of belonging on a Super Disc List.

There are killer domestic copies AND killer SYL imports out there, and the only way to know which ones sound good is to collect ’em, clean ’em, and play ’em. Remember: TAS List doesn’t guarantee great sound, but Better Records does — if you don’t think a record sounds as good as we’ve stated, we’ll always happily take that record back and refund your money. Good luck getting ol’ Harry to send you a check when the TAS-approved pressings you pick up don’t deliver.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Doolin-Dalton

This wonderful song is a great test track for side one. Typical pressings of this album tend to be dark and lack extension up top. When you have no real top end, space, detail and resolution suffer greatly. You need to be able to appreciate each of the stringed instruments being played — guitar, banjo, dobro — and the top end needs to be extended and correct for you to be able to do that.

When the vocals on this track sound natural with lots of breathy texture, and the cymbal crashes ring cleanly, you know you’ve got a good copy on your hands.

Twenty-One

A fairly tough track to get right. This song can sound great, but on a lower resolution copy it will often sound a bit smeared. When the top end is correct, the clarity and detail usually fall right into place.

Out of Control 
Tequila Sunrise 
Desperado

Side Two

Certain Kind of Fool 
Outlaw Man 
Saturday Night

This song has some very sweet vocal harmonies that are reminscent of CSNY. You’ll need a transparent copy to allow you to pick out the individual voices — when you’re able to, this track can be magical.

Bitter Creek 
Doolin-Dalton/Desperado (Reprise)