Hybrid SACD sounds lively, present, detailed, rich and dynamic
Desperado seems to speak to a universally human theme — the notion that at heart we are all drifters, always searching in life for ever-elusive goals such as stability, companionship, belonging, and satisfaction. Marrying cohesive western-themed arrangements to conceptual narrative devices, the Eagles' 1973 album also hits on a tried-and-true American principle: The West, and the freedom, promise, and danger it has represented throughout U.S. history. Ambitious yet accessible, deep but direct, Desperado remains a towering influence on country rock and a crucial piece of the Eagles' development and evolution.
Mastered from the original analog master tapes, Mobile Fidelity's numbered-edition Hybrid SACD pays tribute to the record's significance and enhances the experience for generations to come. Playing with reference sonics that elevate an effort forever held dear by audiophiles, it provides a lively, dynamic, transparent, balanced, and intimate view of a release whose contemporary importance continues to grow. The opportunity to zero in on the particulars of the Eagles' golden harmonies, distinct vocal timbres, and interplay between acoustic and electric instruments has never been better.
By design, Desperado is a record where appearances also matter. Originally conceived as an album revolving around western motifs that involve outlaws, it saw the group dress up as cowboy exiles for a famous front cover shot taken by photographer Henry Diltz. The back cover is even more notable. A reenactment of the capture and death of the Dalton Gang, it displays the quartet as well as collaborators Jackson Browne and J.D. Souther bound on the ground. Standing above the band, a group of lawmen — including Johns, manager John Hartmann, and others — exudes pride. Staged at Paramount Ranch in Malibu Canyon, the project also involved the making of a short film that accented the album's commentary about the Eagles' loss of innocence in the face of music-biz machinations.
Metaphorical parallels between outlaws and rock stars carry through nearly every song. And still, the record retains a charm and ease many enterprising sets lack. Writing for Rolling Stone in 1973, Paul Gambaccini rightly observed: "The beautiful thing about it is that although it is a unified set of songs, it is not a rock opera, a concept album, or anything pretending to be much more than a set of good tunes that just happen to fit together."