Last time out, I took a look at The Eagles: Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975, a compilation of songs that I called one of the finest 'Greatest Hits' collection of all time - by any band. Looking to strike lightning twice, the Eagles released their Greatest Hits - Volume 2 in 1982. Based on their growing popularity and fame, Greatest Hits - Volume 2 was extremely successful. Yet while it contains quite a number of bona fide 'hits', it doesn't quite match up to the near perfection of their first volume of songs.
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By this time in the career of the Eagles, the infamous inner turmoil, artistic battles, and general disagreements were running rampant - and would eventually do in the band. Randy Meisner, one of the lead singers, was kicked out of the band after their multi-platinum Hotel California was released, and Don Henley was already beginning to focus on his solo career, rather than the continuation of the band as a while. The addition of Joe Walsh on lead guitar certainly helped the band move into a considerably more 'rocking' sound - which no doubt also led to some dissension among the ranks.
Regardless of how each of these problems affected the group, good, solid and enduring songs were still produced, although perhaps not quite to the level and proclivity of their earlier works. The Eagles Greatest Hits - Volume 2 consists of the following songs:
1. Hotel California - Originally from Hotel California
While this may be the Eagles hands-down most popular and wide reaching song that they ever produced, it is clearly (to me, at least) not a prime example of the typical music they were more apt to produce. Still, Hotel California with all of its psychedelic imagery behind some nicely executed melodies is a song that has received continuous airplay on most rock stations and is, and always will be, identifiable as the song from the Eagles. Interestingly enough, I find myself skipping over this song when I have the CD spinning - if only because I've been over-exposed to it over the years and it's become a little tiring. Perhaps it's just me...
2. Heartache Tonight - Originally from The Long Run
With it's catchy introduction of percussions and electric guitars, Heartache Tonight starts off nicely and never lets up. Another (how many are there?) song about the perils of love, the Eagles take a simple, yet effective beat behind good lyrics to produce an immensely enjoyable song. This one rocks - and it shows the 'harder' direction that the Eagles were now taking.
3. Seven Bridges Road (Live) - Originally from The Eagles Live
This is the only live song that appears on this collection, and it's a gem. The song begins acapella and then is later joined by two acoustic guitars - playing very faintly in the background. If nothing else, this song showcases the vocal talents of the band. It's a very easy-going tune with so-so lyrics, but it is a joy to listen to. A nice break in what is to come from the rest of this greatest hits collection.
4. Victim of Love - Originally from Hotel California
This is perhaps my favorite song by the Eagles. The opening ripping guitar chords are superb, yet controlled. Henley's vocals are just perfect. And the song, hey what do you know - about love - tells an interesting, if not warped story. This is what the Eagles do best. Simple songs that they bring to the next level by introducing catchy chords and rhythms that make for an instant hit. In my opinion, this is one of their finest 'rock' songs.
5. The Sad Cafe - Originally from The Long Run
Taking it down a notch, the Eagles produce what I feel is their typical kind of music - a slower, gentler, yet unquestionably rock song. Not so much ballads, although this entry might fit that description, they're songs that can be appreciated on multiple levels because you can here the layering of the song each time you listen to it. The chorus effects here, plus the nicely arranged percussions, really highlight this song, as does Henley's vocals once again. Not quite a hit by today's standards, this is nonetheless one of the Eagles better songs.
6. Life in the Fast Lane - Originally from Hotel California
Somewhat of an autobiographical representation of their fame, Life in the Fast Lane, with heavy rock influences from Joe Walsh, is another hit that personifies the 'heavier' rock side of the Eagles. With catchy and, likely, true to heart, choruses like
"Life in the fast lane
Surely make you lose your mind
Life in the fast lane, everything all the time
Life in the fast lane, uh huh ..."
it's easy to see/hear some of the torment the Eagles were going through - but it's also refreshing to know they could still produce some catchy, moderately inspiring tunes.
7. I Can't Tell You Why - Originally from The Long Run
Another gem that takes a considerably slower speed as it details the pain of going through life with a loved one - only to realize that your love is slipping away. (I know, quite a reach for the Eagles...). Seriously, this is another beautiful song, expertly vocalized by Timothy B. Schimdt (Thanks momtonanners), and perfectly accompanied by some simple electric guitars, percussions and some synthesizer work. Strong opening lyrics certainly set the tone for this impressive tune.
Look at us baby, up all night
Tearing our love apart
Aren't we the same two people who live
through years in the dark? Ahh...
Every time I try to walk away
Something makes me turn around and stay
And I can't tell you why..."
8. New Kid in Town - Originally from Hotel California
Another song - another hit. This is a perfect blend of how the Eagles could create subtle, gentle rock with some clear aspirations of making the sound harder, stronger, more powerful - yet always kept under control. Nice harmonization's, solid guitar/percussion work, and a building tempo makes New Kid in Town is treat to listen to, over and over again.
9. The Long Run - Originally from The Long Run
Time to let loose a little bit with a noticeably more relaxed and punchier tune that became another in a string of number one hits for the band. Simple, yet effective, bass line, nice driving guitars, and the a-typical vocals from Henley with backup vocals from the rest of the band make for the best combination of ingredients. It just goes to show, as they have so many times in the past, that you don't have to over-produce a song to make a winner. Sometimes the simple and enjoyable approach becomes the best one after all.
10. After the Thrill is Gone - Originally from One of These Nights
This collection of greatest hits finishes off with the lesser known After the Thrill is Gone. Another typical, yet exceptional, slower song from the Eagles, but one whose lyrics far surpass the total package. It's certainly listenable. It's certainly well executed. But sometimes going to the well once to often will net a moderately negative result. Still, the lyrics are powerful enough to be worthy of a listen.
"What can you do when your dreams come true
And it's not quite like you planned?
What have you done to be losing the one
You held it so tight in your hand...?
The eighties were soundly on their way, but the Eagles had nothing to show for them other than their live album and this Great Hits Collection. It wouldn't be until 1994 when the band would re-group to produce their latest (and likely last) studio effort called, appropriately, Hell Freezes Over. Their career may have barely spanned a decade, but the Eagles have left us with a great number of classic songs that will certainly live on for many more decades to come.
Thanks, as always, for reading...