|First posted 2/1/2011; updated 6/17/2019.|
Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975
Peak: #15 US, #2 UK, #12 CN, # AU
Sales (in millions): 38.0 US, 0.3 UK, 42.9 world (includes US and UK)
Genre: California country rock
Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.)
This album wasn’t just the “first album ever certified platinum;” WR it was the best-selling album in the U.S. in the 20th century. WK It lost the title to Michael Jackson’s Thriller after the artist’s death in 2009, but regained it in August 2018. WK “There may be no explaining that, really, except to note that this was the pervasive music of the first half of the 1970s, and somehow it never went away.” WR
“On their first four albums, the Eagles were at pains to demonstrate that they were a group of at least near-equals, each getting a share of the songwriting credits and lead vocals. But this compilation…demonstrates that this evenhandedness did not extend to singles – as far as those go, the Eagles belong to Glenn Frey and Don Henley.” WR They wrote or co-wrote eight of the collection’s songs and one or the other sang lead on every song but Take It to the Limit.
Of the ten songs that comprise this collection, nine were released as singles (b>Desperado is the sole exception). Eight were top 40 hits on the Billboard pop chart (only Tequila Sunrise missed the top 40), five went top ten, and two of them (One of These Nights and Best of My Love) topped the charts.
The band, however, didn’t have any say in putting together the album and complained it was “nothing more than a ploy by the record company to sell product without having to pay additional production costs.” WK Don Henley didn’t like that songs like “Tequila Sunrise” and “Desperado” were taken out of the context of their original albums. WK The album did, however, buy the band time while they worked on what would become their best-selling studio album, 1977’s Hotel California.
Despite Henley’s frustration that songs were taken out of context, “these songs make up a collection consistent in mood and identity” WK “unlike the albums from which they come.” WK Thre result is that this compilation “works so much better than the band’s previous discs [that it] practically makes them redundant.” WR
“The tunes are melodic, and the arrangements – full of strummed acoustic guitars over a rock rhythm section often playing a shuffle beat, topped by tenor-dominated harmonies – are immediately engaging. There is also a lyrical consistency to the songs, which often concern romantic uncertainties in an atmosphere soaked in intoxicants. The narrators of the songs usually seem exhausted, if not satiated, and the loping rhythms are appropriate to these impressions.” WR
In addition to phenomenal sales, this was the rare compilation that topped the Billboard album charts. It debuted at #4 in its first week and then went to #1 the next week, where it stayed for five non-consecutive weeks. Over the years, the album has logged the equivalent of five years on the album chart.