|First posted 2/11/2011; 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
Greatest Hits Volume 2
Peak: #52 US, #63 CN, #5 AU
Sales (in millions): 11.0 US, 15.0 world (includes US and UK)
Genre: classic rock
The Very Best of (1994)
Peak: #4 UK, #28 CN, #2 AU
Sales (in millions): 0.6 UK, 1.87 world (includes US and UK)
Genre: classic rock
The Very Best of (aka “The Complete Greatest Hits”) (2003)
Peak: #3 US, #9 UK, #43 AU
Sales (in millions): 5.0 US, 0.6 UK, 10.8 world (includes US and UK)
Genre: classic rock
Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.)
G1 Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975
Review: Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975 (1976)
This album wasn’t just the “first album ever certified platinum;” WR1 it was the best-selling album in the U.S. in the 20th century. WK1 It lost the title to Michael Jackson’s Thriller after the artist’s death in 2009, but regained it in August 2018. WK1 “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.” WR1
“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.” WR1 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.” WK1 Don Henley didn’t like that songs like “Tequila Sunrise” and “Desperado” were taken out of the context of their original albums. WK1 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.” WK1 Thre result is that this compilation “works so much better than the band’s previous discs [that it] practically makes them redundant.” WR1
“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.” WR1
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.
Review: Greatest Hits Volume 2
Considering the monstrous success of Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975, it was a no-brainer to release a second collection. The band officially disbanded in May 1982 and this set, collecting seven Top 40 hits as well as three album cuts, followed that fall. While not as huge as its predecessor (what could be?), this album still achieved multi-platinum status and outsold all the band’s studio albums except Hotel California.
While that album should be a staple of anyone’s catalog, this collection spared casual listeners from buying “mediocre albums like The Long Run and Eagles Live just to have copies of the best-known songs from those releases.” WR2 This set “was perfect for listeners who knew the band through number one radio hits like New Kid in Town, Hotel California, and Heartache Tonight.” WR2
Review: The Very Best of (1994)
That seemingly was the last anyone would hear of the Eagles, but they surprised the world with their Hell Freezes Over reunion tour in 1994. That same year, a single-disc retrospective of the band’s 1972-1979 years was released in Europe, Australia, and New England. The collection included 9 of the 10 songs from Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975, inexplicably opting to substitute the album cut Doolin’ Dalton instead of the hit single Already Gone, but also adding the minor hit James Dean from that era.
The other six cuts from the Eagles’ latter two albums were all hit singles featured on Greatest Hits Volume 2. This collection jettisons the three album cuts that rounded out that collection, but unfortunately also omits Seven Bridges Road, a top 25 hit from the band’s 1980 live album.
Review: The Very Best of (aka “The Complete Greatest Hits”) (2003)
In 2003, the Eagles were anthologized yet again – this time with a double-disc collection. This seemed especially unnecessary, given that roughly two-thirds of their entire studio catalog of six albums would fit on two CDs. However, this set completely replicated Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975, Greatest Hits Volume 2, and the 1994 Very Best of sets, rendering all three of them unnecessary. This compilation added Get Over It and Love Will Keep Us Alive, studio cuts from Hell Freezes Over, and a new song, Hole in the World. In addition, the 1978 Christmas single Please Come Home for Christmas finally earned a spot on an Eagles’ greatest-hits package.
The collection does start feeling bloated when another seven album cuts are slapped on. Songs like Midnight Flyer really don’t belong here, but other cuts, like The Last Resort and Ol’ ‘55, seem just as worthy as some of the better-known material.
This set also does something none of its three predecessors did – presents the material in chronological order. This allows for a nice progression from the country rock of the band’s early days through the more guitar-driven album rock of the latter half of the ‘70s.