(Pictured: Timothy B. Schmit and Glenn Frey grab for the gusto, 1977.)
During the 70s, lots of artists went into the studio and recorded far more music than they’d have room for on their next release. They’d pick 10 tracks or a dozen, release them, and put the leftovers into the vault. In the CD era, the vaults opened, and we got Bruce Springsteen’s Tracks, The Promise, and The Ties That Band, Van Morrison’s expanded Moondance, and other releases by other acts that sometimes contained hitherto unknown gems.
When the Eagles compiled the Selected Works: 1972-1999 box set in 2000, they included four previously unreleased tracks, but unknown gems they were not.
The earliest track on the album is not a song—it’s a radio clip circa 1974 in which Glenn Frey and Don Henley place a call to the Record Plant, where the Eagles were recording, and they talk to producer Bill Szymczyk and guitarist Don Felder, who plays the solo from “One of These Nights” over the phone. (It sounds as good as you’d expect a guitar to sound over the telephone.) The most interesting thing about the clip is Frey’s statement that the new album would be titled Wallet on the Snare. (Spoiler alert: it was not.)
The other three tracks, added together, are the sound of an exhausted, idea-bereft, drug-addled band trying to get the damn album done. Only one of the three is a complete song: “Born to Boogie,” recorded during sessions for The Long Run, is a decent instrumental track over which Henley croaks a lyric that sounds like he’s making it up on the fly. It runs all of two minutes—and despite what Wikipedia says, it’s not the same song Hank Williams Jr. did on one of his albums in the 1980s. “Long Run Leftovers” is more intriguing—it’s a stitched-together collection of outtakes from unfinished songs, some of which sound like they could have been pretty good. If the YouTuber who posted the link can be believed, two of the clips later ended up as full songs on solo albums by Joe Walsh. “Random Victims Part 3” is nine minutes of mostly studio chatter from the Hotel California and Long Run sessions, and is precisely the sort of stuff that seems hilarious when you’re loaded and stupid if you’re not.
That the studio versions of “Please Come Home for Christmas” and “Funky New Year,” legitimate Eagles rarities, were left off the box set in favor of this tripe is a disgrace.
The “Millennium Concert” that appears on Selected Works: 1972-1999 was recorded in Los Angeles on December 31, 1999, and has also been released on DVD. As I mentioned in an earlier post, apart from live versions of “Please Come Home for Christmas” and “Funky New Year,” the most interesting track on the disc is a version of “Take It to the Limit,” which was originally written and sung by Randy Meisner, performed by Glenn Frey. It’s in a different key than the original, and it’s about as far afield as the Eagles ever got from one of their records.
One Last Thing and Then I’m Letting the Eagles Go for a While: On the day Glenn Frey died, I predicted that some of the commentary about his life and career would be awful, and it was. In the New York Daily News, longtime New York journalist Gersh Kuntzman—who is now apparently a journalism professor—yakked up a facile anti-Eagles take that couldn’t have required more than 10 minutes to type. It was headlined “Glenn Frey’s death is sad, but the Eagles were a horrific band”—above the fold on the front page—the day after the man died. As lame as the column was, it was worse when a link with the same headline appeared in the middle of an otherwise-lovely piece by Chris Erikson about periodically bumping into Frey and his children in Brooklyn.
The link was probably generated automatically, but it came off cruel nevertheless. And Kuntzman’s hackwork doesn’t deserve any additional circulation.