Sunday, 3 June 2018
Jackson Browne - The Pretender (1976)
Released November 1976
Recorded at Sunset Sound, California
This was a somewhat ignored album back in late 1976, (certainly in the UK, if not in the USA, where it sold lots) in the midst of the excesses of prog-rock, cock rock and the first sparks of punk properly taking flame. Shame. It is a lovely piece of work.
Firstly, there is no indication anywhere that this is a remaster. However, the sound is excellent, and certainly sounds as if it has been given the treatment. The music is crystal clear and top notch (as always on Jackson Browne albums).
Lyrically, Jackson Browne just makes one think, reflect and contemplate. Must be a tough gig being his analyst. Another reviewer has made reference to the trying times Browne went through before the release of this album. With that in mind, it is amazing what a beautiful, touching collection of songs he has come up with.
"The Fuse" and "Your Bright Baby Blues" are both typical five-six minute Browne mini-masterpieces, melodic piano interlaced with guitar and those "mini hooks" he specialises in which has you singing along before the song whisks you off in another direction. There is a sadness to all those mini hooks too, further exemplified on the lovely "Here Come Those Tears Again" and the tour de force title track. "The Only Child" is beautiful, with its heartbreaking "take good care of your mother" line. "Daddy's Tune" relieves the understandably sombre mood somewhat with some brassy upbeat couple of minutes. "Sleep Dark And Silent Gate" washes over you in preparation for the title track. "Linda Paloma" is a throwaway bit of Mexicana which Browne often loves. Pleasant enough, but the album's weakest track.
Incidentally, check out Gary "US" Bonds' corking, Springsteen-produced cover of "The Pretender" while you're at it….