The Eagles go from quartet to quintet on this transitional a
Terrence J. Reardon | Lake Worth (a west Palm Beach suburb), FL | 11/07/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In March of 1974, The Eagles released their third album On the Border.
From the opening rocker Already Gone, you could tell that the band had become a rock band. Not a country rock band but a plain good ol' rock and roll band.
The addition of third guitarist Don Felder in late 1973 gave the band a bigger, more raw, more urgent sound, particularly on the hardest rock tracks, the opening "Already Gone" which had great Felder solos and was the world's real intro to Felder, the rocking "Good Day In Hell" which had killer slide work from Felder (in fact, this very track was the first song Felder recorded with The Eagles) and "James Dean".
Like its predecessor Desperado, On The Border sounds like songs from different albums but the Eagles manages to pull it off.
Unlike its predecessors, the album was mainly produced by Bill Szymczyk (whom worked with The James Gang and J. Geils Band among others) taking over for Glyn Johns whom the band canned after recording the ballads "You Never Cry Like a Lover" and the closing "Best of My Love".
The album may have gone more rocking but there were a few more country numbers like the modern bluegrass sounds of 'Midnight Flyer" and the traditional country rock ballad "My Man" (Bernie's ode to Gram Parsons and his best song for the band) on the same album as the hard rock of the opening Already Gone, the funky title cut and the power chords of James Dean and Good Day in Hell.
This album gave the Eagles their first Gold album the year of release and the band's first #1 single Best Of My Love, a country-tinged ballad. A little bit ironic considering how much Glenn Frey and Don Henley wanted the Eagles to be a rock band rather than a country band, but it is really a beautiful song with a great lead vocal by Henley and pedal steel work by Leadon.
The two rock singles which are now staples of classic rock radio James Dean and Already Gone didn't fare nearly as well, the latter made it to #32, but the former stalled at #77. They're great songs, though, as is the Eagles' cover of then Asylum labelmate Tom Waits' "Ol' 55" which they made their own and because of this album's sales gave Tom Waits a little extra royalty money and the heavy Good Day In Hell. "Is It True" is a much more conventional, very pleasant mid-tempo love rocker with some fine slide guitar from guitarist/keyboard player Glenn Frey but the band wanted a good slide player for this album, and they found that in Don Felder who rocks on Good Day In Hell. Glenn and drummer Don Henley had taken firm control of the band on this album. Frey does two solo lead vocals, Henley three and shares center stage on Ol' 55 and Good Day In Hell. Faithful down-to-Earth bass player Randy Meisner sings on Midnight Flyer and on his own solo composition, the lovely Is It True and guitarist Bernie Leadon does a solid job on My Man, which is dedicated to the late Gram Parsons (Bernie's bandmate in The Flying Burrito Brothers).
I first got this album on cassette two days after my ninth birthday and is still a classic today, especially with the remastering on this album.