Classic Rock Corner

The Eagles' Real Greatest Hits, 1971-1975

Thirty-five years ago today, the Eagles' Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975), became the very first album to be certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America, at least in the modern period of the RIAA keeping track. No doubt before Frey & Henley hit the scene, Elvis and the Beatles had done the same.

The LP was released on Feb. 17, 1976 and went on to hit platinum status a week later on February 24. Various detractors have claimed that the record label had only shipped that amount, or the numbers were inflated, leading to others crying foul at the band's platinum achievement. But at the time the the band's magnitude in the United States, and to lesser extent the world, almost assured that a million people had the album spinning on their turntables by February 25.

By November 1999, the album had sold 26 million copies, making it the best-selling album of all-time. Today it is only a million shy off the pace of the reigning leader, Michael Jackson's Thriller, which supplanted the Eagles after Jackson's death in 2009.

One of the most polarizing bands of the past 40 years, the Eagles either incur anger and derision or fond memories and, well, peaceful easy feelings. Rocks Off saw the band twice last year, liking their closing the Austin City Limits Music Festival in October the least.

Their Toyota Center show back in June was just fine. We think a crowd of thousands and thousands of drunkards coming off a three-day heat and booze bender had something to do with us checking out before the encore.

Looking at the first Greatest Hits' track listing, you see the shrewdness of the band, a particular trait that would only add fuel to the fire for the hate game. The band and their handlers released a stopgap collection that could almost make buying their previous four studio albums an unneeded luxury. The only track to not chart inside the Top 40 singles chart was the dark-horse "Tequila Sunrise."

You cannot argue the marketability of any of these cuts. They all live on as radio staples and in pop culture, even as the band's public image continues to wax and wane.

"Take It Easy" "Witchy Woman" "Lyin' Eyes" "Already Gone" "Desperado" "One of These Nights" "Tequila Sunrise" "Take It to the Limit" "Peaceful Easy Feeling" "Best of My Love"

But going back and listening to the four albums those hits were culled from, you can hear at least ten others that could have been stellar radio singles. Fan allegiance seems to be split on all four, with most people pointing to Hotel California - released several months after the first hits disc - as the band's magnum opus.

A second hits volume would come in 1982, two years after the band's breakup. Eagles Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 would only sell 11 million copies, lacking the firepower of the first disc, but it would include "After The Thrill Is Gone," which should have made it onto the first release. The rest was rounded out by cuts from Hotel California, The Long Run, and their grossly-mixed live album Eagles Live.

So, what did they leave off that first hits disc that's worth checking out? Don't hit us...

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Craig Hlavaty
Contact: Craig Hlavaty