Editor’s Note: The Albumism staff has selected what we believe to be 50 fantastic first solo albums recorded by artists who departed—or simply took a temporary hiatus from—their respective groups, representing a varied cross-section of genres, styles and time periods. Click “Next Album” below to explore each album or view the full album index here.
Don Henley | I Can’t Stand Still
Selected by Grant Walters
A less accomplished musician might have been all but swept away by the dust cloud that resulted from the implosion of a massive empire like the Eagles, but Don Henley’s appeal as a vocalist and songwriter wasn’t just associated with the band’s identity—it helped to define it.
Although Henley and his infamous counterparts would reform about a decade later, he balked at the possibility of a reunion when the question inevitably surfaced in the press. “I’m certainly not comparing us to the Beatles, but I understand their reasons for not wanting to get back together,” he revealed to the Chicago Tribune in 1985. “You capture a certain magic at a certain period in history, and it as much has to do with the times and peoples’ lives as it does with the music and the band. Once you regroup, that time is passed, and you can’t necessarily recapture that magic anymore because things are just different. Besides, I’m perfectly happy with what I’m doing now.”
Henley’s first solo turn, I Can’t Stand Still, doesn’t completely jettison the Eagles’ brand of country-rock fusion, which is still tangibly audible on tracks like “You Better Hang Up,” “Them And Us,” and “Lilah.” But the album’s first two singles, “Johnny Can’t Read” and “Dirty Laundry,” embrace an electronic punch that’s far more Sunset Strip than desert highway, and also lay bare Henley’s political sagacity.
Even more divergent is the brief Celtic-inspired instrumental “La Eile,” that, despite it being a lovely interlude, seems as if it was almost mistakenly dropped in the middle of the record’s second half. However, it’s good to hear Henley taking a few risks he may not have as a member of the Eagles conglomerate.
Where he shines brightest as a vocalist is on the record’s ballads, and the beautiful “Talking To The Moon” is a blueprint for future gems like 1989’s “The Heart Of The Matter” and “New York Minute.”