The “best sounding” Eagles record, according to Glenn Frey

Glenn Frey

Before Glenn Frey was pleased with an Eagles album, it would not be released to the public. The band was originally in Frey’s head, even though he and Don Henley served as co-captains during the group’s heyday. In dire circumstances, most of the other members would also defer to Frey when it came to making important decisions. Though Frey believed that On the Border was the band’s most accomplished record at the time, the group would go on to produce some of the biggest records of the 1970s.

This is a bold statement from a band that worked with Glyn Johns, a major industry figure. Johns disagreed with much of what the Eagles wanted to do. He believed that they were more country than rock and roll, even though he had been the board member for some of the world’s greatest rock bands, including The Rolling Stones, The Who, and Led Zeppelin.

While their first album’s brief foray into country music proved successful, the fans weren’t into their conceptual masterpiece Desperado. This left many wondering if they had seen a band break up. Change was in the air when they got ready for their third release. Frey’s priority was to fire Johns.

Henley told History of the Eagles, that Johns simply wanted to write songs that were much more relaxed. “He had been producing rock and roll for years,” he said. Since we weren’t really in the same stage of life at the time, I believe that all he wanted was peaceful people and peaceful music. After realizing halfway through the project that Johns wouldn’t be able to carry them through, Frey decided to bring in Bill Szymczyk as the next producer.

Getting the proper drum sound was one of the major adjustments, according to Henley. He recalled that “[Johns] would just put three microphones on the drum kit.” “Hit it harder if you want the drum to be louder,” he used to say. To have more control over the mix, we needed someone who could mount a microphone on every drum.

While some songs, like “The Best of My Love,” made it through Johns’s initial edit, Frey claimed that the finished album was among their best-sounding creations ever. “On the Border was the best-sounding record we ever made, but that’s also experience,” Frey said. Learning how to record is a bit different from learning how to be in a band. This is something we’re just now beginning to learn.”

Even though the songwriting on On the Border is far from their best, it does include some of their most unique songs to date. Even though there are a few bad songs on there, such as their dubious rendition of Tom Waits’ “Ol’ 55,” it is impressive how much road time they had put on their songs because they could transition from rock songs like “Already Gone” to bluegrass on “Midnight Flyer” and then slow down with ballads like “My Man.”

While creating On the Border, there were undoubtedly some bumps in the road. However, after they had discovered their sound, the possibilities were endless. They would not have to go far to achieve the success they were sure to have at Hotel California.

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