Mastered from the original analog master tapes, Mobile Fidelity’s numbered-edition hybrid SACD pays tribute to the record’s merit and enhances the intimate program for generations to come. Playing with reference sonics that elevate an effort forever prized by audiophiles, this spectacular version provides a clear, clean, transparent, balanced, and intimate view of an album that permanently made California-style rock a style of its own.
Visually, the front cover of the album brilliantly captures the fundamentals of the Eagles’ aural essence. Photographed at Joshua Tree National Park, it portrays a seemingly endless blue sky arched over the hovering copper glow of a sunset. In the foreground, shadow-bathed cacti hugs a slice of desert, both illuminated by nature above and beyond. Peaceful, easy, breezy, organic, laidback, cohesive, warm yet cool: The picture parallels the tone and timbre of the content lurking in the songs, and helps elevate Eagles to that rare place where every single aspect (and participant) is united in theme and purpose.
As just one of two Eagles albums created by the original quartet of Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Randy Meisner, and Bernie Leadon, the record remains unique in the band’s history for the shared songwriting and vocal performances. Each member takes the lead on at least one track, extending to Meisner on “Most of Us Are Sad,” “Take the Devil,” and “Tryin'” as well as Leadon on “Train Leaves Here This Morning” and “Earlybird.”
The mellifluous blending of the Eagles’ distinctive voices, the very aspect that drew Johns to the project, lingers throughout. Such harmonizing – in combination with textured sonic tapestries stitched with acoustic guitars, steady bass lines, banjo notes, folk constructs, and edgy rock elements – informs arrangements bolstered by golden melodies and brilliant craftsmanship. Nowhere is that approach more evident than on “Take It Easy,” an opening tune that quickly became a signpost of the collective’s mentality, technique, and philosophy. Rambling, and related themes of traveling or returning home, resurface in “Train Leaves Here This Morning” and the restless “Take the Devil.”
Women, another of the Eagles’ other long-running inspirations, occupies much of the album’s other focus. Frey’s opportunistic “Chug All Night,” the Top 25 smash “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” and Jackson Browne’s devotional “Nightingale” continue the light-streaked vibes. In contrast, Henley’s cautionary “Witchy Woman” portends the darker concepts the band would explore going forward even as the song maintains a voodoo-kissed, feel-good mood. Indeed, few albums of the era felt better in both scope and spirit.