Monday, 6 August 2018

Jackson Browne - Running On Empty (1977)


Released December 1977


1. Running On Empty
2. The Road
3. Rosie
4. You Love The Thunder
5. Cocaine
6. Shaky Town
7. Love Needs A Heart
8. Nothing But Time
9. The Load Out
10. Stay

This is one of my favourite ever albums. It is ostensibly a live album, but what it is, as opposed to being one live gig, is a selection of tracks recorded live by Jackson Browne in different situations. Some are recorded live at large gigs - like the rocking opener "Running On Empty", the equally rousing, riffy "You Love The Thunder", with a killer guitar solo,  and then there is the truly magnificent, evocative and moving "tale of the road" closer, "The Load Out/Stay", which is one of the greatest live cuts of all time, from anyone, in my opinion. Check it out. The point where the full band kicks in is one of those spine tingling rock moments. Another was recorded on the tour bus, in rudimentary fashion, like the folky "Nothing But Time". This sounds great, considering it was recorded on the bus.

The sad ballad "The Road" (another song about life on the road, which is a recurring theme), the soulful rock of "Shaky Town" and the acoustic, hard-hitting "Cocaine" were recorded in various hotel rooms. The unique thing about "The Road" is that the first 2.58 minutes of it were recorded in the hotel room, with Browne on acoustic guitar only, and then you hear the crowd whoop and it turns into a full band concert recording from a proper show. It is so cleverly done, you can't "hear the join" so to speak. "Shaky Town" also sounds remarkably full and bassy, with a great drum sound, considering it was so basically recorded.

The heartbreaking "Rosie", about a groupie, was recorded by Browne backstage after a gig. It is a wonderfully atmospheric song. The laid-back, piano-driven country-ish rock of "Love Needs A Heart" was another full band, concert recording. There is a superb, melodic organ solo in this track.

This is just an uplifting, exhilarating record, from a strangely underrated artist. I never fail to enjoy it, even after all these years. Highly recommended. My God, I love "The Load Out".


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