Eagles Albums: Ranked from Worst to Best

The Eagles emerged from California in the early 1970s, initially as Linda Ronstadt’s backing band for her album Silk Purse. They were massively successfully, with a string of chart-topping singles and albums. In particular, their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) is one of the highest-selling albums of all time.

It’s appropriate that the Eagles’ most successful release was a singles compilation. Their hit songs are classic rock staples; the twin guitar soloing of ‘Hotel California’, the disco-crossover of ‘One of These Nights’, and sweet country-rock like ‘Best Of My Love’. Meanwhile, their albums aren’t discussed as much as those by contemporaries by Pink Floyd or Led Zeppelin. But their albums chart a fascinating journey from the country-rock of the early 1970s to the stadium rock of the late 1970s.

The Eagles had a deep talent pool – the leaders were the Don Henley, whose sandpaper voice graced most of their hits, and Glenn Frey, who wrote sturdy tunes and was a capable multi-instrumentalist. The pair sang together beautifully, and the group’s harmonies are often beautiful. The group had a strong cast of supporting players; Don Felder and Joe Walsh are excellent guitarists, and Randy Meisner and Timothy B. Schmitt are strong bassists and vocalists. Early member Bernie Leadon could play country licks on anything with strings.

Eagles Albums Ranked From Worst To Best

I’m only ranking the Eagles’ studio albums – their two live albums are inessential. 1980’s Eagles Live houses their magical a capella version of ‘Seven Bridges Road’, while the four new tracks on 1994’s Hell Freezes Over mostly sound like solo projects.


#7 The Long Run

The Eagles had run out of steam by their last 1970s album, and The Long Run contains wretched filler like ‘The Disco Strangler’ and ‘The Greeks Don’t Want No Freaks’. The Long Run starts solidly with the Henley-fronted title track before new bassist Timothy B. Schmitt sweetly croons his way through the R&B flavoured ‘I Can’t Tell You Why’, and Joe Walsh

#6 Long Road Out Of Eden

The lineup of Frey, Henley, Walsh, and Schmitt returned to the studio for the first Eagles album in almost three decades. It’s overly long, but it contains moments of surprisingly strong material. There’s lovely harmonising on ‘No More Walks in the Wood’ and the group sound energised on their cover of vintage J.D. Souther track ‘How Long’. Henley continues a strong tradition of social critique on the title track, and Walsh shines on ‘Last Good Time in Town’.


#5 Eagles

The Eagles’ debut album effectively melds the soft-rock and country-rock trends of the early 1970s, spawning the mellow hits ‘Take It Easy’ and ‘Peaceful Easy Feeling’. The band’s at their most democratic, as the dominant axis of Don Henley and Glenn Frey wasn’t yet established, and all four members share equal billing. It’s their least coherent album – the Bernie Leadon and Don Henley composition ‘Witchy Woman’ is spooky and excellent, but Frey’s ‘Chug All Night’ is the least impressive song the band ever released.


#4 Desperado

The band’s sophomore effort was a concept album, equating the Eagles with wild west outlaws. Henley stated later that “the metaphor was probably a little bullshit. We were in L.A. staying up all night, smoking dope, living the California life, and I suppose we thought it was as radical as cowboys in the old West.” It failed to meet the moderate success of its predecessor, although Henley and Frey’s first compositions, ‘Tequila Sunrise’ and the title track, are among the band’s best-loved tracks. It’s still inconsistent, but Leadon’s mournful ‘Bitter Creek’ is one of the band’s best deep cuts.


#3 One Of These Nights

The Eagles were mega-stars by 1975, and Henley’s lyrics began to wrestle with questions of fame and decadence. The band take on disco on the excellent title track, while Leadon’s instrumental ‘Journey of the Sorcerer’ was later used as the theme music for The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy. But while most of the individual songs are strong, the album gets bogged down in slow tempos and long tracks after the first couple of songs – the singles ‘Lyin’ Eyes’ and Meisner’s showpiece ‘Take It To The Limit’ are among the offenders.


#2 Hotel California

The Eagles’ best-known album is similar to One Of These Nights; long-winded songs wrestling with fame and debauchery. Bernie Leadon had left the band and was replaced by James Gang guitarist Joe Walsh. Walsh supplied the muscular guitar riff for ‘Life In The Fast Lane’ and moved the band further away from their country roots. The three big hits (the title track, ‘New Kid in Town’, and ‘Life in the Fast Lane’) are sequenced at the start of the record. The rest of the album drags a little with slow tempos and long running times – even the rocker ‘Victim Of Love’ is slow.


#1 On The Border

The Eagles third album is an underrated gem. After Desperado failed to make the top 40, it was the single ‘Best Of My Love’ from On The Border that reached number one and set the Eagles on the path to mega-stardom. It captures the band in a state of flux between their early country-rock and the harder edge of their later work. The single ‘James Dead’ is corny, but there are charming album cuts like the power-pop of Meisner’s ‘Is It True?’, Leadon’s heartfelt Gram Parson’s tribute ‘My Man’, and the inventive country-rock hybrid ‘Midnight Flyer’. Incoming guitarist Don Felder adds punch to ‘Already Gone’ and ‘Good Day In Hell’.

How do you feel about the Eagles? Do you like them enough to have a favourite Eagles album?

Read More:


Graham Fyfe is probably the only music blogger to appreciate Neil Diamond and Ariana Grande. Aphoristic Album Reviews features reviews and blog posts across a growing spectrum of popular music.


  1. I really dig the Eagles for combining great melodies with harmony singing that I feel can compete with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, which is perhaps the best band when it comes to harmony vocals. In general, I’m more drawn to their rock-oriented phase with Joe Walsh, who may be a bit nuts but undoubtedly is a kick-ass guitarist.
    I feel with every band you have songs that vary in quality, even when to comes to my favorite band of all time, The Beatles. Revolution 9? 🙂
    Except for “Hotel California,” which I have on vinyl and which because of the title song and “Life In The Fast Lane” already makes it one of the best 70s records in my book, I haven’t fully explored the other Eagles albums from first song to last.
    I like pretty much all of the tunes from their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) and Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 compilations. I feel that’s plenty of material and plenty of reason to dig this band. I was also fortunate to see them live once in 2015 – one of the last shows with Glenn Frey. It was definitely one of the most memorable concerts I’ve been to.

    • The Beatles do have a couple of albums where every song is strong though – I think Sgt Peppers and Revolver are both solid all the way through. The Eagles feel like a second tier album band to me – kind of like The Doobie Brothers or something – but who got top tier fame and popularity. They’re more of a singles band, and it’s fair enough that their highest selling album is a compilation.
      I’d pick The Beach Boys as the best harmony band. So many beautiful individual voices, especially Carl.

  2. Can’t say I’ve really bothered much with The Eagles. Used to spin a couple of those albums in the record shop in the 70s, but wasn’t really tempted to take them home.
    Having said that, I like a couple of the hits (though not with you on ‘New Kid’, eetch! Sorry!), some of Joe Walsh’s contributions, and love ‘Journey of the Sorcerer’, Bernie Leadon’s instrumental that I first heard as the theme music for ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ radio series (as you pointed out above).
    And just to demonstrate the inconsistency that often permeates such off the cuff responses, I have a great big soft spot for ‘Peaceful easy feeling’. So there.

    • I like New Kid a lot, even if that final tag goes on for way too long. Feels like their later, sharper lyrics married to their early sound. I love Felder’s guitar near the end, and Walsh’s Fender Rhodes, and the lyrics are about Springsteen.
      Doesn’t surprise me that Journey would be your favourite Eagles track, and that you’re not a huge fan over all. I went through a really mainstream phase in my early teens where the only music I knew was on mainstream retro radio, and that’s where I got to know stuff like Billy Joel and the Eagles. My tastes got more adventurous once I got the internet in my late teens.

      • Makes sense. They were all over FM radio — for the first time!! — in the 70s, hence my reasonable level of exposure and perhaps why (this revealed with a slight wince) The Eagles DO appear on the VC shelves. Hotel, Nights, a Best of and a 2 CD boot from their 90s superannuation tour. Amazing what you find when you look. I’m going to spin HC now as penance and sing along (I expect) to most of it.
        Cheers Graham!

  3. The only record I ever purchased by the Eagles was the “Already Gone” 45. So I will defer to your worst-to-best judgement, which seems pretty sound. They are the ultimate pros and cons band, I agree with Vinyl Connection about having a soft spot for “Peaceful Easy Feeling.” I thought it kind of ironic when the Eagles-hating Dudein “The Big Lebowski” got kicked out of a taxi for asking the cabbie to change the station when he heard that. That’s their tune that I always turn up!

    • I’ve looked at a bunch of lists by other people and they’re all over the place – there’s not a whole lot of consensus. To my ears it seems obvious that they improved as Henley and Frey took charge and once they got Felder on board, but there’s little agreement on what albums are best, although Hotel California is generally liked and The Long Run often regarded as one of their weaker efforts.

  4. Look man, I had a rough night and I hate the f):$:n Eagles
    That said I dislike the mellow lost hippie in 1973 LA vibe of the early big hit singles and like the rock phase with Walsh and Felder dueling guitars.
    Im not sure if I like or admire Henly as a person but he’s written a few of the best songs of the 80’s as a solo artist.

  5. I’m with The Dude. Just never liked them. You hit the nail on the head… commercialised and watered down. But, that said, I do enjoy some of Joe Walsh’s contributions.

  6. I like that +/- look at the different sides of The Eagles debate.
    I find I’m typically neither pro or con, with the odd exception, beyond admiring their technical proficiency as musicians, I tend to be indifferent to the actual music!

  7. I must say I agreed wholeheartedly with your appraisal, I feel I almost have to be positive about the band and that takes a bit of a dive if I actually have to listen to them. Their music to me conjures up parched lawns and interminable school holidays listening to Radio 1. There’s a fantastic beginning to that very long documentary about them where they just launch into a seemingly spontaneous accapela number and my jaw hit the floor, compensates for the dull drumming.

  8. hotel california is an overrated album. it hasnt aged well. i still hear it on yacht rock radio but whos covering it its glorifying drugs really really hasnt aged well. fleetwood mac did at least as many drugs but they didnt blame anyone but themselves.

Leave a Reply

More from Aphoristic Album Reviews

Aphoristic Album Reviews is almost entirely written by one person.

Graham Fyfe is probably the only music blogger to appreciate both Neil Diamond and Ariana Grande. Based in Fleet Street (New Zealand), he's been writing this blog since around 2000. Aphoristic Album Reviews features reviews and blog posts across a growing spectrum of popular music.

Review Pages

Read about the discographies of musical acts from the 1960s to the present day. Browse this site's review archives or enjoy these random selections:

The Beach Boys Pet Sounds
The Beach Boys Album Reviews

As a casual music listener it’s easy to hear The Beach Boys’ sun-drenched hits, and conclude that the group were all beaches, girls and cars, and no substance. But the group was led by Brian Wilson, one of the most talented musicians of his era, with an ear for sophisticated […]
Snail Mail Album Reviews

Lindsey Jordan grew up in Baltimore also home to Beach House and Wye Oak, while at one point her guitar teacher was Helium’s Mary Timony. Seeing Paramore at the age of 8 made Jordan question her previously held assumption that only men could form bands. Jordan formed the band Snail […]
Emmylou Harris Album Reviews

Emmylou Harris started as a folkie – born in Alabama, she dropped out of college to perform folk songs in Greenwich Village. She recorded an unsuccessful debut album, 1969’s Gliding Bird, and as a divorced solo mother she dropped out of the folk scene. She was spotted performing by Chris […]
Portishead Dummy
Portishead Album Reviews

Portishead formed in the city of Bristol, where a vibrant, multi-cultural music scene spawned trip-hop in the early 1990s. Trip-hop took the beats from hip hop, and slowed them down, adding textures and songs. Alongside Portishead, essentially the entire trip-hip scene originated in Bristol, with Massive Attack and Tricky also […]
Matthew Sweet Album Reviews

1990s power-pop star Matthew Sweet was born in Nebraska – also the home of Josh Rouse, Conor Oberst, Randy Meisner, and JoJo Siwa. After finishing school he moved south to Athens, Georgia, to attend college and join the alt-rock scene. Athens had already spawned notable alt-rock bands The B-52s and […]
Black Midi Album Reviews

The members of Black Midi met at the BRIT School in London, a performing art college whose other alumni include Amy Winehouse, Adele, FKA Twigs, and Imogen Heap. With access to the studio during school, they were able to get all the silly experimentation out of their system. The four […]

Blog Posts

I add new blog posts to this website every week. Browse the archives or enjoy these random selections:

10 Best Straitjacket Fits Songs

Of the indie guitar bands proffered by Dunedin’s Flying Nun label in the 1980s, Straitjacket Fits were the most likely to break through to a mass audience. The Fits were based around two vocalists and songwriters who were an unlikely combination but who complemented each other beautifully; Shayne Carter had […]
SomethingAnything Todd Rundgren review
10 Best Todd Rundgren Songs

Todd Rundgren emerged in the late 1960s as guitarist and songwriter for the Philadelphia rock band The Nazz. He’s scored a few recognisable hits – the early 1970s soft-rock of ‘Hello, It’s Me’ and ‘I Saw the Light’, as well as the goofy 1980s singalong ‘Bang the Drum All Day’. […]
10 Best Queen Songs

In the 21st century, Queen have emerged as the most-loved band from the classic rock era. They enjoyed little critical respect and struggled to sell records in the US for much of their career, but they now outperform more acclaimed acts like The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and The Rolling Stones […]
Crowded House The Very Best Of Recurring Dream
Neil Finn's Five Best Albums

Until the emergence of Lorde, song-smith Neil Finn was New Zealand’s most recognisable pop export. Born in Te Awamutu, Finn was enamoured by the tuneful pop of The Beatles and Elton John. Still a teenager, he joined his brother Tim Finn in Split Enz in 1977, originally as a guitarist. […]
Yes Tales from Topographic Oceans
Yes Albums Ranked from Worst to Best

Progressive rock behemoths Yes emerged from London in the late 1960s. Starting out as a psychedelic pop band, they became one of its leading exponents of the emerging genre of progressive rock. Despite a revolving crew of members – bassist Chris Squire was the only constant over the twelve albums covered on […]
Dire Straits Money for Nothing
Dire Straits Albums: Ranked from Worst to Best

One glance at Mark Knopfler’s bandana will tell you that Dire Straits have never been a fashionable band. Emerging in 1978, at the height of punk, their literate bar-band rock appealed to conservative listeners not enamoured by the upstart sounds of The Sex Pistols and The Clash. Despite their lack […]
%d bloggers like this: