Eagles – Eagles – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame.

A WHITE HOT side one that was so darn good, we had to break our own rules and give it FOUR BIG PLUSES — A++++! This side one is a DEMO DISC like you will not believe. When the big chorus comes in on Take It Easy — one of the toughest tests for side one — you will be amazed by how energetic and downright GLORIOUS these boys can sound. Believe us when we tell you, it’s the rare copy that can pass that test. 

This side one had some of the best ENERGY we heard in our entire shootout (composed of all original pressings by the way; nothing else comes close, a subject we discuss below). With big bass and huge scope, this may become your favorite disc for showing your friends just what analog is really capable of. (We’ve heard many times from customers that they use Hot Stamper pressings of this very album for that exact purpose.)

It won’t take the future owner of this record long to recognize what we’ve known for years: the Eagles first album is clearly and inarguably one of the Best Sounding Rock Recordings Ever Made. Want your speakers to disappear? Want to hear Live Rock Music in your listening room? This side one will make it happen!

The Eagles first album is without a doubt Glyn Johns’ masterpiece — rock records just don’t sound any better. It’s exactly the kind of record that makes virtually ANY Audiophile pressing pale in comparison.

A Top Ten Title

You may have seen our Top 100 list of the best sounding rock records elsewhere on the site. We picked out a Top Ten from that list and you will not be surprised to learn that this record made the cut. (Top Two or Three is more like it.)

At one time this was my single favorite Demo Disc. A customer who bought one of these one time told me it was the best sounding record he had ever heard in his life. I don’t doubt it for a minute. It’s certainly as good as any rock record I have ever heard, and I’ve heard hundreds if not thousands of awfully good ones.

Sides One and Two

Think this is all hyperbole? You sure won’t when you play side one on this copy! The sound positively JUMPS out of the speakers and fills the room! The transparency and clarity are nothing less than SHOCKING — just listen to all that ambience; those clear transients on the acoustic guitars, their harmonics captured so beautifully; the sound of the room around the drums.

The bass too is simply AMAZING — deep, tight, BIG and punchy. Take this record with you when shopping for speakers. The speaker that gets the POWER and ENERGY of this music right is the one you want. This record will separate the men from the boys thirty seconds into Take It Easy. It will be quite obvious who’s got the real piston power and who doesn’t.

One of the best things about this side one is the separation between the various parts, a result of the phenomenal transparency and freedom from distortion of these very special Hot Stamper pressings. You can easily tune in to each of the musicians and follow what they are doing over the course of a song. That’s what you’ve come to expect from a Better Records Hot Stamper, and this copy delivers on that promise.

Side two is good but a big step down from this amazing side one. It earned a grade of A Plus. It’s musical in the midrange but recessed, a little too smooth and lacking any real top. A nice sounding record but not a life-changing experience like this side one might be!

The Real Sound Comes from the Real Master Tape

There’s an interesting story behind this album, which I won’t belabor here. One listen and you’ll know I speak the truth when I say that the tape used to cut this pressing was never used again to cut any other. It is GONE. LOST FOREVER. All reissues of this album are mediocre at best, and positively painful to listen to once you’ve heard the right original pressing, the one cut from the real tape.

Which mostly explains why I never had any respect for this first album. The average copy sounds so bad that the musical values just aren’t communicated to the listener. Isn’t this why we have all this fancy equipment in the first place, to allow the musicians to communicate with us the way they intended? And when the record is a poor reproduction of the artist’s work, it prevents this communication from taking place. (And don’t get me started about CDs.)

Those poor reproductions are probably the ones you have, if you even have one at all. I’ve been buying Eagles records for almost 30 years and I only discovered this hot version about a year ago, entirely by accident. Before that I had one of those crappy sounding versions like everybody else. Live and learn, right?

You Heard It Here First!

Have you ever read a word about the hot version in any audiophile or record collecting publication? Of course not. These people wouldn’t know a good record from a hole in the ground. You’ve got to come to Better Records to find records like these. We’re the guys that play the records we sell, remember? How else would you ever know how good this pressing is? You’ve got to play it. Ten seconds into either side and you’ll know. That’s how good it is.

If you own one of those bad later pressings, it’s a record you might have played once or twice, gotten little out of, and put back on the shelf, wondering why those stupid Eagles couldn’t get their act together and record their music better.

But they did! They were recorded brilliantly. Glyn Johns, the recording engineer, is a GENIUS. The sound is rich, sweet and tubey as anything you have ever heard. I would say it’s as good a rock studio recording as any I have ever heard, and better than 99.99% of the competition.

Track Commentary

We made some notes about what to listen for under the Track Listing tab above which you might want to use to judge your own copy, or this one if you are the lucky man (person?) who takes it home. I would find it very hard to imagine that any record you might own could better it, let along compete with it. It’s practically in a league of its own, and priced accordingly.

Tough to Find These Days

Clean White Label pressings like this one are getting more and more scarce and more and more expensive for us to buy with each passing day. We can barely even find Jackson Browne’s first album on the Asylum white label at allanymore, in decent enough condition to play on an audiophile turntable anyway. One or two in a year would be a very good year for us. The same thing is happening to all these rare originals; look at the prices they are fetching on eBay. And keep in mind many of those copies are noisy and full of groove damage — we should know, we’ve bought plenty that way.

So when a great copy of an amazing album — musically and sonically — comes our way we have to price it accordingly. We guarantee this record is worth every penny of the many thousands of pennies we are charging for it or we will refund your money, down to the very last penny, no questions asked.

Super Seventies

If you like reading the reviews of the day, the Super Seventies website has a ton of them for this title, almost all of them raves.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Take It Easy Track Commentary

On most copies the vocals in the chorus will be a little bit strained. When you hear the vocals sound completely free from harmonic distortion or “edge” of any kind, you have yourself an exceptionally well mastered and pressed copy.

Witchy Woman Track Commentary

Witchy Woman is one of the key test tracks we use for side one. Take It Easy, the opening song, often sounds amazingly good — it’s got that driving beat and those acoustic guitars and it just seems to be one of those songs that usually sounds right on the original pressings.

Witchy Woman starts out with huge, powerful drums: they should just knock you out. Next comes an acoustic guitar with a lot of echo: the more echo the better, because that means the pressing has lots of resolution. The echo is on the tape, and the more of the tape that ends up on the record the better. Then comes the vocal. It should not be too bright, spitty or grainy. The vocals also have tons of ambience surrounding them on the best copies.

This is a HUGE Demo Quality track. If this song doesn’t knock your socks off something is not working right.

Chug All Night 
Most of Us Are Sad 
Nightingale

Side Two

Train Leaves Here This Morning Track Commentary

This is my favorite track on the album. In fact I like it so much I think it’s the best Eagles song ever recorded. (Dillard and Clark recorded it on their album as well.) The acoustic guitars and vocal harmonies on this track are simply as good as it gets. If somebody can play me a CD that sounds like this I will eat it.

Take the Devil 
Early Bird Track Commentary

This is another tough track to master properly. The mix is very complicated, and there’s a banjo that figures prominently in it. Getting that banjo to sound musical is the trick. The bass is very rich on the best copies. On those copies that are a bit on the lean side, the banjo can take on an edgy and aggressive quality.

The best copies get the banjo JUST RIGHT and place it perfectly in the mix. On The Border, their third album and my personal favorite, makes wonderful use of the banjo. When the band changed their sound to take them in the direction of more straight ahead rock (One of These Nights) they lost me. The public felt differently, sending the album to Number One in the charts, which set the stage for the monster success of Hotel California.

Peaceful Easy Feeling 
Tryin’

AMG Review

Balance is the key element of the Eagles’ self-titled debut album, a collection that contains elements of rock & roll, folk, and country, overlaid by vocal harmonies alternately suggestive of doo wop, the Beach Boys, and the Everly Brothers. If the group kicks up its heels on rockers like “Chug All Night,” “Nightingale,” and “Tryin’,” it is equally convincing on ballads like “Most of Us Are Sad” and “Train Leaves Here This Morning.”

1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die

Although none of the original members of the Eagles were originally from California, the group came to symbolize the West Coast country rock that became hugely popular in the late 1970s. Originally members of Linda Ronstadt’s backing band, The Eagles’ formation as a distinct group coincided with the launch of Asylum Records, and they were one of the first acts signed to the label, along with Ronstadt and Jackson Browne.

Anxious to work with Glyn Johns, the English engineer/producer who had worked with The Who, The Rolling Stones, The Small Faces, Led Zeppelin, and The Steve Miller Band, the group recorded their debut album at Olympic Studios in London, which was where Johns liked to work: “I brought them to England, and we made the album very quickly, in under three weeks,” he remembered. “I don’t think I’d been as excited since probably Led Zeppelin — they were amazing but they didn’t really know what they’d got.”

“Take It Easy,” “Witchy Woman,” and “Peaceful Easy Feeling” were all U.S. Top 30 singles and the album was soon certified gold. Part of its success was down to the quartet’s glorious vocal harmonies. Factor in accomplished musicianship (Bernie Leadon’s country roots are strongly evident in the banjo and guitar work), and the strength of the songwriting (all of the group contributed original material; lead vocals were also rotated) and it is little wonder that the band soon secured a strong live attraction, and were one of the biggest acts in the world five years later.

John Tobler