9 Eagles Albums Ranked Worst to Best
Join me as I guide you through the Eagles albums ranked worst to first, which hopefully exposes you to some deep cuts you weren’t familiar with. So whether you’re a seasoned Eagles diehard or a newcomer looking to explore the band, I hope you gain some insight from my perspective!
Eagles Albums Ranked Worst to Best
On this list, the Eagles’ 1974 album On the Border comes in first place, for its harder-edged rock n’ roll sound and its strong guitar playing. Last place on the list goes to 2007’s comeback album Long Road Out of Eden, for its uninspired and lackluster songwriting, as well as its lack of creativity.
Let’s now dive into all of the albums and why I ranked them where I did.
9. Long Road Out of Eden (2007)
Fans were surely excited for this eagerly awaited follow up, especially since it had been 28 years since the band’s last studio album. Sadly, the Eagles were not able to recapture the magic of their 70’s heyday here.
For one, the material is not nearly strong enough to justify a double album. The album clocks in around an hour and a half and it never lets you forget it. This album primarily relies on the country rock sound the Eagles are mostly known for but fails to live up to the rhythmic diversity established on their 70’s releases. The songs tend to blur together, and even at the album’s best it just makes me want to pull out an older Eagles album as a musical palate cleanser.
Favorite Song on Long Road Out of Eden: “How Long” is the clear standout track for me on this one. The Eagles collaborated with J.D. Souther all throughout the 1970’s, receiving his help on some of their biggest hits. Listening to this one makes me wish he’d cowritten all the songs on Long Road Out of Eden.
It’s a relatively mellow country rock tune, with some powerful and moving vocals. The song was written in 1971, so that’s probably why it evokes a classic Eagles feel.
8. Hell Freezes Over (1994)
I normally don’t include live albums in my studio rankings, but this is worth a mention since it has four new studio songs kicking off the album. Unfortunately, these four studio tracks don’t measure up to the band’s 70’s material.
Other than “Get Over It,” the songs sound closer to Don Henley and Glenn Frey’s respective solo careers rather than full-on Eagles collaborations. The rest of the album is live acoustic renditions of some Eagles classics. While it was nice for fans to see the Eagles resolve their differences and reunite, all these tracks are stronger in the studio.
Favorite Song on Hell Freezes Over: “Get Over It” is the best of the new songs. It was written by Glenn Frey and Don Henley and has a driving hard rock sound like some of their best 70’s material.
7. Eagles Live (1980)
This album was rushed to fulfill contractual obligations with the band’s record company–and boy does it show in spades. It primarily features sloppy and uninspired renditions of material from Hotel California and The Long Run, but it’s worth seeking out for three reasons.
The band’s cover of Steve Young’s “Seven Bridges Road” is played with more gusto than their own songs, and the album has two great versions of guitarist Joe Walsh’s solo songs, “Life’s Been Good” and “All Night Long.” Seek these out and stick with the studio versions of the other tracks.
Favorite Song on Eagles Live: “Life’s Been Good” is originally a Joe Walsh solo track, and it stands tall above the rest of the material on this album. Clocking in at around ten minutes, the band really jams out here and Joe Walsh displays some of the dazzling guitar skills that got him hired by the Eagles in the first place.
6. The Long Run (1979)
This was the last Eagles studio album for nearly thirty years, and listening to it nowadays it’s quite evident the band were on the verge of disbanding. There are some good ideas throughout, but little of the album meshes.
It’s got a strong guitar-driven, hard-rocking sound at times, but the songwriting tends to fall flat. This was the first album to feature bassist Timothy Schmit, and as talented as he is, he lacks the inventive basslines of original bassist Randy Meisner.
Favorite Song on The Long Run: “In the City” is a Joe Walsh original, and much like on Eagles Live, Joe Walsh is the MVP. It’s got a catchy, driving riff combined with an eloquent and uplifting chorus, and there’s some tasty guitar interplay between Walsh and Frey.
5. One of These Nights (1975)
Much like The Long Run, this album also shows a band on the verge of breakup, although on a smaller scale. This would be the last Eagles album to feature guitarist Bernie Weadon, who penned many great tracks in the band’s early years.
While the album is at times disjointed and lacking cohesion, there’s still some great material here, like Weadon’s sophisticated and moody instrumental “Journey of the Sorcerer.” The album is a mixture of the band’s earlier outlaw country material and the more mainstream rock sound of their later releases.
Favorite Song on One of These Nights: “Visions” is a great rock n’ roll song, written and sung by guitarist Don Felder, his sole lead vocal performance in the band’s career. This track has a driving riff and an undeniable hard rock groove to it, foreshadowing the comparative heaviness of Felder’s solo career.
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4. Desperado (1973)
While it has become a fan favorite over time, I tend to view Desperado as the weaker sibling of its follow up album, On the Border. Most of the material is still quite strong, and the album does a great job at establishing a Western outlaw atmosphere.
As opposed to the raw southern rock bands like ZZ Top and Lynyrd Skynyrd were dabbling in at the time, Desperado is more of a laid-back affair, drawing its main influences from country music and folk.
Favorite Song on Desperado: “Outlaw Man” is a deep cut in the band’s catalogue, and it’s also the heaviest track on the album. This is a solid, good-time 70’s hard rocker. Glenn Frey’s vocals are great here, assuming the outlaw character described in the lyrics in a convincing manner.
3. Hotel California (1976)
While many view this as the Eagles’ finest hour, I do think the band lost something after Bernie Weadon’s departure in 1975. Hotel California marks a drastic change in the band’s sound, but luckily the resulting material is still pretty great. Joe Walsh steps up to the plate here and adds some great guitar playing to the band’s sound.
Lyrically, the album is based around one concept, with each track giving social commentary on the excess and hedonism of the 1970’s. The Eagles were at the forefront of this movement, yet had the foresight to criticize it from within, giving the album a feel of desperation.
Favorite Song on Hotel California: “The Last Resort” is the epic closer to the album, and it essentially sums up every musical idea expressed on the album in one great package. It’s a long, synthesizer-laden track that features strong country rock elements as well.
2. Eagles (1972)
While this album isn’t discussed with the same reverence as some of their other releases, I love it. Here on the Eagles’ debut album, we have a young and hungry band that’s ripe with enthusiasm.
The stern and serious feel of later releases had not yet materialized, and instead there’s a fun and laid-back party sound to these tracks. From Henley’s funky “Witchy Woman” to the deep cuts like Meisner’s “Take the Devil,” this album is a good encapsulation of the early 70’s country rock sound.
Favorite Song on Eagles: “Take It Easy” might be one of the band’s biggest radio hits, but it got popular for a reason. This song is a catchy and meditative piece featuring gorgeous vocal harmonies and some great southern twang vocals courtesy of Glenn Frey.
1. On the Border (1974)
On the Border is my favorite Eagles release, because it builds upon what was good about 1973’s Desperado while also incorporating more of the hard rock elements that would define a lot of their later material. The country-inspired Western outlaw vibe is still present in the music, but there’s a bit more rhythmic and musical variation on this one, keeping the album strong and entertaining throughout.
The album manages to be both relaxing and mellow while also keeping things rocking, which is quite a feat that demonstrates the band’s songwriting abilities.
Favorite Song on On the Border: “James Dean” is one of the heavier tracks on the album. It’s got a nice 1950’s-inspired rock n’ roll sound that fits perfectly with the song’s subject matter. It also displays the band’s lyrical abilities, as its analysis of James Dean as a symbol of rebellion and freedom still resonates to this day.
Wrapping It Up
There you have it—nine Eagles albums ranked from worst to first! If you’ve been holding off on digging into their albums, I think you’ll be pleased by some of the deep cuts I’ve mentioned here, as well as those great hit songs we all know. While you can probably avoid their post-breakup material, their 70’s albums all have some worthy gems.
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