Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975)
Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975) is the first compilation album by the Eagles, released in 1976. The album contains a selection of songs from the Eagles' first four albums released in the period from the Eagles' formation in 1971 up to 1975. It was the best-selling album of the 20th century in the United States, and it stayed the best-selling album in the U.S. for some years until it was surpassed by Michael Jackson's Thriller after the artist's death in 2009. In August 2018, it regained the title of the U.S.'s biggest-selling album, with a 38× Platinum certification by the Recording Industry Association of America.
|Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975)|
|Compilation album by|
|Released||February 17, 1976|
|Studio||Olympic Studios, London; Island Studios, London; The Record Plant, Los Angeles; Criteria Studios, Miami|
|the Eagles chronology|
Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975) comprises nine singles released between 1972 and 1975, plus the album track "Desperado." All of these singles except "Tequila Sunrise" charted in the top 40, with five in the top ten, and "One of These Nights" and "Best of My Love" both topping the singles chart.
The manager of Eagles, Irving Azoff, said: "We decided it was time to put out the first greatest-hits because we had enough hits." However, according to Don Felder, none of the band members had any say in the decision to release the compilation album. The band complained that the album was "nothing more than a ploy by the record company to sell product without having to pay additional production costs". Don Henley was unhappy that songs like "Tequila Sunrise" and "Desperado" were lifted out of the context of the original album in a way that he thought detrimental to the nature, quality and meaning of the music. He said: "All the record company was worried about were their quarterly reports. They didn't give a shit whether the greatest hits album was good or not, they just wanted product." Despite being unhappy with the album's release, the band nevertheless reasoned that it gave them more time to work on the Hotel California album.
The cover of the album is an image of an artwork created by Boyd Elder, also known as "El Chingadero", whose work was also used for the cover of One of These Nights. The work was created from a plastic cast of an eagle skull, which was then painted. The skull was set against a light-blue background made of silver mylar, and the bumpy appearance of the background gave rise to a myth that it was cocaine powder that they were using. Glenn Frey also noticed the resemblance, telling Elder that the background reminded him of "a field of blow" (slang term for cocaine), however the band chose not to debunk the myth. The artist was paid $5,000 for the work.
|Christgau's Record Guide||B|
|The Daily Vault||A|
William Ruhlmann of AllMusic thought the songs in the compilations melodic and immediately engaging, and that they have lyrical consistency. He wrote: "... unlike the albums from which they come, these songs make up a collection consistent in mood and identity, which may help explain why Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975) works so much better than the band's previous discs and practically makes them redundant. No wonder it was such a big hit out of the box ..."
Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975) debuted at number four on the US Billboard 200 album chart on its first week of release, and reached number one in the following week, where it stayed for five weeks. It was ranked number four on the Billboard year-end album chart of 1976 and has spent a total of 239 weeks on the Billboard 200 as of August 2018. The album has also been number one on the Billboard Top Pop Catalog Albums chart for 15 non-consecutive weeks and has spent 465 weeks on the chart.
The album has the distinction of being the first album to receive the RIAA platinum award, which was introduced in 1976 to recognize albums that shipped one million copies in the United States. It received its certification on February 24, 1976, a week after its release. It was certified 12× platinum in August 1990, 14× platinum in 1993, 22× platinum in 1995, and then became the best-selling album of the 20th century in the United States when it was certified 26× platinum on November 10, 1999. In a 2001 radio interview, Randy Meisner said neither he nor Bernie Leadon were notified of the award presented to the band in 1999, and "...had to call and we finally received it." It was certified 29× platinum on January 30, 2006. In August 2018, it was certified 38x platinum under a new system that tallies album and track sales as well as streams. It again became the highest-certified album by the RIAA, surpassing Michael Jackson's Thriller which is certified 33× platinum.
There is skepticism of the album's certifications. From 1993 to 1995 the album received certifications for an additional eight million units, yet per Nielsen SoundScan it sold fewer than a million copies during that time. The album sold just over five million copies from 1991, when SoundScan began tracking, to 2006, although certifications indicate 17 millions albums shipped between that time. In 2018 Sony Music CEO Rob Stringer stated the album had only sold 2.3 million album-equivalent units from 2006 to 2018 yet it received certification for nine million units during that time. Warner Music, which distributed Their Greatest Hits, claims the figure comes from newly-discovered sales dating back to 1976. A representative from Jackson's estate stated "The notion that they can go back 10, 15, 20 or 30 years and find units that were never counted before is absurd, they reviewed these records before. Why didn’t they find those uncounted records then?" and noted sales audits are usually restricted to three years.
|1.||"Take It Easy" (from Eagles, 1972)||Frey||3:29|
|2.||"Witchy Woman" (from Eagles)||Henley||4:10|
|3.||"Lyin' Eyes" (from One of These Nights, 1975)||Frey||6:21|
|4.||"Already Gone" (from On the Border, 1974)||Frey||4:13|
|5.||"Desperado" (from Desperado, 1973)||Henley||3:33|
|1.||"One of These Nights" (from One of These Nights)||Henley||4:51|
|2.||"Tequila Sunrise" (from Desperado)||Frey||2:52|
|3.||"Take It to the Limit" (from One of These Nights)||Meisner||4:48|
|4.||"Peaceful Easy Feeling" (from Eagles)||Jack Tempchin||Frey||4:16|
|5.||"Best of My Love" (from On the Border)||Henley||4:35|
As with their previous album One of These Nights, the original vinyl editions feature "Happy New Year, Glyn" and "With Love from Bill" written into the inner dead wax on Sides One and Two, respectively.
- Glenn Frey – guitars, vocals; piano
- Bernie Leadon – guitars, backing vocals; banjo, pedal steel, mandolin
- Randy Meisner – bass guitar, vocals
- Don Henley – drums, vocals
- Don Felder – guitars on "Lyin' Eyes," "Already Gone," "One of These Nights," and "Take It to the Limit"
- Glyn Johns – producer
- Bill Szymczyk – producer
- Jim Ed Norman – string arrangements
- Allan Blazek – engineer
- Michael Braunstein – engineer
- Howard Kilgour – engineer
- Ed Mashal – engineer
- Michael Verdick – engineer
- Don Wood – engineer
- Henry Diltz – art direction, design
- Glen Christensen – art direction, design
- Boyd Elder – art direction, design
- Irving Azoff – direction
- Steve Hoffman – digital remastering
- Ted Jensen – digital remastering
|Canadian RPM Albums Chart||1|
|New Zealand Albums Chart||2|
|UK Albums (OCC)||2|
|US Billboard 200||1|
|Australia (ARIA)||8× Platinum||560,000^|
|Canada (Music Canada)||2× Diamond||2,000,000^|
|Hong Kong (IFPI Hong Kong)||Platinum||20,000*|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Platinum||300,000^|
|United States (RIAA)||38× Platinum||38,000,000|
*sales figures based on certification alone
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