Jackson Browne – Saturate Before Using (1972)

FrontCover1.jpgJackson Browne is the eponymous debut album of singer Jackson Browne released in 1972. It peaked on the Billboard 200 chart at number 53.[1] Two singles were released with “Doctor My Eyes” peaking at number 8 on the Pop Singles chart and “Rock Me On the Water” reaching number 48.[2]Jackson Browne is the eponymous debut album of singer Jackson Browne released in 1972. It peaked on the Billboard 200 chart at number 53. Two singles were released with “Doctor My Eyes” peaking at number 8 on the Pop Singles chart and “Rock Me On the Water” reaching number 48.
Browne had been having minor success as a songwriter but was still unable to obtain his own recording contract. He sent a demo of “Jamaica Say You Will” to David Geffen in early 1970 and Geffen began looking for a record deal for Browne. Geffen ended up founding his own label, Asylum Records, instead and signing Browne.
The album was certified as a Gold record in 1976 and Platinum in 1997 by the RIAA.

The album is often mistakenly called Saturate Before Using, because the words appear on the album cover, which was designed to look like a water bag that would require saturation in order to cool its contents by evaporation. For this very reason, Asylum Records executives suggested to no avail that the words be removed from the album Single1cover and nearly rejected the cover art outright. However, the initial pressings not only included the text, but the cover carried a burlap-like feel to further the water bag theme.
The confusion over the title returned when the album was converted to CD format, when the words appeared on the spine of the jewel case as the album title.
Browne told the story of the cover’s creation and spoke of the title’s confusion in an interview with the album designer Gary Burden for his 2002 DVD Under The Covers: “I remember being on the phone with Gary… talking about what the album cover should be, and I happened to be in a room that had a water bag on the wall. It was just one of the things that I collected driving around on trips and stuff. And I was looking at this bag as he was saying ‘what do you think it ought to be?’ I was thinking, ‘well, it could be a water bag.’ … it said ‘saturate before using’ on the front … ‘You know, Gary, on mine, it says this on the back.’ And you said, well, so?’ And ‘if you put it on the front, people are going to think that’s the title.’ And you said, ‘don’t be ridiculous. Who would think that was the title?’ I said, ‘Yeah, you’re right.’ So, not only does everyone think that’s the title of that album, but my record company thinks that’s the title of the album.”

Publicity photo donated to the Rock Hall Archives
Jackson Browne received positive reviews from most critics. In his review for Allmusic William Ruhlmann praised the album as “An auspicious debut that doesn’t sound like a debut” and “the album has long since come to seem a timeless collection of reflective ballads touching on still-difficult subjects…and all with an amazingly eloquent sense of language. Jackson Browne’s greater triumph is that, having perfectly expressed its times, it transcended them as well.” Rolling Stone rated the album 6 of 10 stars and stated “Browne’s debut lays the groundwork for future heart-and-soul excavations. ‘Doctor My Eyes,’ an early hit single, communicates the subdued, subtle power of his half-spoken melodies, while ‘Rock Me On the Water’ and ‘Song for Adam’ foreshadow the free-ranging contemplation to come.”

The original 1972 review in Rolling Stone stated “Jackson Browne’s sensibility is romantic in the best sense of the term: his songs are capable of generating a highly charged, compelling atmosphere throughout, and–just as important–of sustaining that Single2pitch in the listener’s mind long after they’ve ended.” Ed Kelleher wrote in Circus in 1972: “Though others have done him justice, Browne is his own best interpreter. He just eases back and lets the song come. He has the soul of a poet and the stance of a troubadour. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he has not fallen victim to the trap of over-production–the record has been crafted with care and purity.”
Music critic Robert Christgau gave the album a B grade, however, was ambivalent about the whole album, writing, “The voice is pleasant, present, and unpretentious, and when I listen assiduously I perceive lyrics crafted with as much intelligence and human decency as any reasonable person could expect. Unfortunately, only critical responsibility induces me to listen assiduously. It’s not just the blandness of the music, but of the ideas as well, each reinforcing the other.” (by wikipedia)

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One of the reasons that Jackson Browne’s first album is among the most auspicious debuts in pop music history is that it doesn’t sound like a debut. Although only 23, Browne had kicked around the music business for several years, writing and performing as a member of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and as Nico’s backup guitarist, among other gigs, while many artists recorded his material. So, if this doesn’t sound like someone’s first batch of songs, it’s not. Browne had developed an unusual use of language, studiedly casual yet full of striking imagery, and a post-apocalyptic viewpoint to go with it. He sang with a calm certainty over spare, discretely placed backup — piano, acoustic guitar, bass, drums, congas, violin, harmony vocals — that highlighted the songs and always seemed about to disappear. In song after song, Browne described the world as a desert in need of moisture, and this wet/dry dichotomy carried over into much of the imagery. In “Doctor My Eyes,” the album’s most propulsive song and a Top Ten hit, he sang, “Doctor, my JacksoneBrowne03eyes/Cannot see the sky/Is this the prize/For having learned how not to cry?” If Browne’s outlook was cautious, its expression was original. His conditional optimism seemed to reflect hard experience, and in the early ’70s, the aftermath of the ’60s, a lot of his listeners shared that perspective. Like any great artist, Browne articulated the tenor of his times. But the album has long since come to seem a timeless collection of reflective ballads touching on still-difficult subjects — suicide (explicitly), depression and drug use (probably), spiritual uncertainty and desperate hope — all in calm, reasoned tones, and all with an amazingly eloquent sense of language. Jackson Browne’s greater triumph is that, having perfectly expressed its times, it transcended those times as well. (The album features a cover depicting Browne’s face on a water bag — an appropriate reference to its desert/water imagery — containing the words “saturate before using.” Inevitably, many people began to refer to the self-titled album by that phrase, and when it was released on CD, it nearly became official — both the disc and the spine of the jewel box read Saturate Before Using.) (by William Ruhlmann)

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Joni Mitchell + Jackson Browne

Personnel:
Jackson Browne (guitar, piano, vocals)
David Campbell (viola)
Jim Gordon (organ)
Leland Sklar (bass)

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Jesse Ed Davis (guitar on 04.)
Craig Doerge (piano on 05., 09. + 10.)
Jimmie Fadden (harmonica)
David Jackson (piano on 08.)
Sneaky Pete Kleinow (pedal steel-guitar on 08.)
Russ Kunkel (drums, congas on 04. + 07.)
Albert Lee (guitar on 02. + 07.)
Clarence White (guitar on 01.)
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background vocals:
David Crosby – Graham Nash

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Tracklist:
01. Jamaica Say You Will 3.26
02. A Child In These Hills 4.00
03. Song For Adam 5.23
04. Doctor My Eyes 3.17
05. From Silver Lake 3.52
06. Something Fine 3.49
07. Under The Falling Sky 4.10
08. Looking Into You 4.19
09. Rock Me On The Water 4.15
10. My Opening Farewell 4.45

All songs written by Jackson Browne
Leah Kunkel composed the vocal counter-melody on 05.

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Jackson Browne – Running On Empty (1977)

FrontCover1Running on Empty is the fifth album by American singer-songwriter Jackson Browne. Released in 1977, the album reached #3 on the Billboard Pop Albums chart in 1978 and stayed on the charts for 65 weeks. The single for the title track, “Running on Empty”, peaked at #11 and the follow-up single, “The Load-Out”/”Stay”, reached #20 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart.

The album received two Grammy Award nominations in 1979: one for Album of the Year and the other for Pop Male Vocal Performance for the song “Running on Empty”.

In addition to tracks recorded on-stage during concerts, it also contains songs recorded in hotel rooms, on the tour bus, and backstage. It is unusual among live albums in that none of the tracks had ever appeared on a previous studio album. Browne was the sole writer on only two songs, co-writing four others and covering another four. The theme of the album was life on the road. In a Rolling Stone interview about the tour during which the album was recorded, Browne expressed pleasure at finally being able to afford the session musicians he wanted to go out on the road with him.

The album was certified as a Gold record in 1977 and Platinum in 1978 by the RIAA. It reached Multi-platinum in 1997 and 2001. It reached 7X platinum and is Browne’s best-selling album to date. In popular culture, the album cover can be seen framed and hanging on the wall next to the front door in the apartment on the set of Mork & Mindy. (by wikipedia)

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Having acknowledged a certain creative desperation on The Pretender, Jackson Browne lowered his sights (and raised his commercial appeal) considerably with Running on Empty, which was more a concept album about the road than an actual live album, even though its songs were sometimes recorded on-stage (and sometimes on the bus or in the hotel). Unlike most live albums, though, it consisted of previously unrecorded songs. Browne had less creative participation on this album than on any he ever made, solely composing only two songs, co-writing four others, and covering another four. And he had less to say — the title song and leadoff track neatly conjoined his artistic and escapist themes. Figuratively and creatively, he was out of gas, but like “the pretender,” he still had to make a living. The songs covered all aspects of touring, from Danny O’Keefe’s “The Road,” which detailed romantic encounters, and “Rosie” (co-written by Browne and his manager Donald Miller), in which a soundman pays tribute to auto-eroticism, to, well, “Cocaine,” to the travails of being a roadie (“The Load-Out”).

Singles

Audience noises, humorous asides, loose playing — they were all part of a rough-around-the-edges musical evocation of the rock & roll touring life. It was not what fans had come to expect from Browne, of course, but the disaffected were more than outnumbered by the newly converted. (It didn’t hurt that “Running on Empty” and “The Load-Out”/”Stay” both became Top 40 hits.) As a result, Browne’s least ambitious, but perhaps most accessible, album ironically became his biggest seller. But it is not characteristic of his other work: for many, it will be the only Browne album they will want to own, just as others always will regard it disdainfully as “Jackson Browne lite.” (by William Ruhlmann)

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Personnel:
Jackson Browne (guitar, piano, vocals)
Craig Doerge (keyboards)
Danny Kortchmar (guitar, background vocals)
Russ Kunkel (drums, percussion)
David Lindley (lap steel guitar, fiddle, co-lead vocals on “Stay”
Leland Sklar (bass)
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background vocals on
Joel Bernstein – Rosemary Butler  Doug Haywood

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Tracklist:
01. Running On Empty (Browne) 5.31
02. The Road (O’Keefe) 4.46
03. Rosie (Miller/Browne) 3.41
04. You Love The Thunder (Browne) 3.55
05. Cocaine (Davis/Frey/Browne) 4.57
06. Shaky Town (Kortchmar) 3.41
07. Love Needs A Heart (Browne/George/Carter) 3.30
08. Nothing But Time (Burke/Browne) 3.37
09. The Load-Out (Garofalo/Browne) 5.36
10. Stay (Just A Little Bit Longer) (Williams) 3.22

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Looking out at the road rushing under my wheels
Looking back at the years gone by like so many summer fields
In sixty-five I was seventeen and running up one-oh-one
I don’t know where I’m running now, I’m just running on
Running on, running on empty
Running on, running blind
Running on, running into the sun
But I’m running behind
Gotta do what you can just to keep your love alive
Trying not to confuse it with what you do to survive
In sixty-nine I was twenty-one and I called the road my own
I don’t know when that road turned, into the road I’m on
Running on, running on empty
Running on, running blind
Running on, running into the sun
But I’m running behind
Everyone I know, everywhere I go
People need some reason to believe
I don’t know about anyone but me
If it takes all night, that’ll be all right
If I can get you to smile before I leave
Looking out at the road rushing under my wheels
I don’t know how to tell you all just how crazy this life feels
Look around for the friends that I used to turn to to pull me through
Looking into their eyes I see them running too
Running on, running on empty
Running on, running blind
Running on, running into the sun
But I’m running behind
Honey you really tempt me
You know the way you look so kind
I’d love to stick around but I’m running behind
You know I don’t even know what I’m hoping to find
Running into the sun but I’m running behind

Jackson Browne – I´ m Alive (1993)

FrontCover1I’m Alive is the tenth album by American singer-songwriter Jackson Browne, released in 1993 (see 1993 in music). The title track, “I’m Alive”, reached No. 18 on the Album Rock Tracks chart and No. 28 on the Adult Contemporary chart. Other singles released from the album were “Everywhere I Go” (UK No. 67) and “Sky Blue and Black”.

After veering heavily towards songs of a political nature on his two previous albums, longtime fans of Browne welcomed the return on I’m Alive to his previous style of songwriting.

The song “Too Many Angels” includes backing vocals by Jennifer Warnes, Valerie Carter, Doug Haywood, Katia Cardinal and Ryan Browne while the song “All Good Things” includes backing vocals by David Crosby and Don Henley. The song “Sky Blue and Black” was also featured in the pilot episode of American situation comedy Friends.

I’m Alive was considered somewhat of a comeback for Browne. Stephen Holden writing for The New York Times wrote “I’m Alive is a striking return to the kind of romantic subject matter that the Los Angeles singer and songwriter seemed to have abandoned after 1980 in favor of political songwriting. His finest album in nearly two decades, it has much in common with his 1974 masterpiece, Late For The Sky, whose songs also described the disintegration of a relationship.”

Singles

Critic William Ruhlman agreed though did not consider the album as strong. “Longtime fans welcomed the album as a return in style… Browne eschewed the greater philosophical implications of romance and, falling back on stock imagery (angels, rain), failed to achieve an originality of expression. While it was good news that he wasn’t tilting at windmills anymore, Browne did not make a full comeback with the album, despite a couple of well-constructed songs.” The Rolling Stone Record Guide wrote Browne “returned to his forte: the personal joy and agony of day-to-day human interaction.”

In the original Rolling Stone review for the album from 1993, Kara Manning expressed the belief that “Browne has successfully managed to resurrect his persona of 20 years ago. I’m Alive shudders with the pain of someone who’s been soundly dumped. And Browne has even gained a sense of gallows humor. Between despondent cries for reconciliation, the singer indulges in refreshingly silly self-deprecation.” However, she wondered, “what does a younger, angrier generation – raging to Dr. Dre and Nirvana – make of all this? But ’70s nostalgia is on a roll…”

Labels

Jackson Browne abandoned politics for the war between the sexes on I’m Alive. “I have no problem with this crooked world,” he sang; “…My problem is you.” The album detailed the ups and downs of a relationship, starting with the defiant post-breakup title track and then doubling back to describe irritation (“My Problem Is You”), devotion (“Everywhere I Go,” “I’ll Do Anything”), increasing tension (“Miles Away,” “Too Many Angels”), separation (“Take This Rain,” “Two of Me, Two of You”), forgiveness (“Sky Blue and Black”), and finally acceptance (“All Good Things”).

Longtime fans welcomed the album as a return in style to the days of Late for the Sky, but a closer model might have been Hold Out, a complementary album concerned with the flowering of an affair rather than the withering of one, since Browne eschewed the greater philosophical implications of romance and, falling back on stock imagery (angels, rain), failed to achieve an originality of expression. Just as, in Hold Out, one wasn’t so much inspired as informed that Browne had found love, on I’m Alive, one wasn’t so much moved as told that he’d lost it. While it was good news that he wasn’t tilting at windmills anymore, Browne did not make a full comeback with the album, despite a couple of well-constructed songs. (by William Ruhlmann)

Jackson Browne

Personnel:
Jackson Browne (guitar, guitar, piano, vocals, background vocals)
Mike Campbell (guitar)
Lenny Castro (percussion)
Luis Conte (percussion)
Mark Goldenberg (guitar)
James “Hutch” Hutchinson (bass)
Jim Keltner (drums)
John Leventhal (guitar)
Mauricio-Fritz Lewak – drums
David Lindley (bouzouki, guitar, oud)
Kevin McCormick (bass)
Dean Parks (guitar)
Benmont Tench (organ)
Scott Thurston (guitar, keyboards, background vocals)
Waddy Wachtel (guitar)
Jai Winding (piano)
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background vocals:
Sweet Pea Atkinson – Sir Harry Bowens – Ryan Browne – Katia Cardenal – Valerie Carter – David Crosby – William “Bill” Greene – Doug Haywood – Don Henley – Arnold McCuller – Jennifer Warnes – Steven Soles –

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Tracklist:
01. I’m Alive 5.01
02. My Problem Is You 4.40
03. Everywhere I Go 4.36
04. I’ll Do Anything” – 4:31
05. Miles Away 3.52
06. Too Many Angels 6.04
07. Take This Rain 4.49
08. Two Of Me, Two Of You 2.56
09. Sky Blue And Black 6.06
10. All Good Things 4.28

All songs qwritten by Jackson Browne

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In the calling out to one another
Of the lovers up and down the strand
In the sound of the waves and the cries
Of the seagulls circling the sand
In the fragments of the songs
Carried down the wind from some radio
In the murmuring of the city in the distance
Ominous and low
I hear the sound of the world where we played
And the far too simple beauty of the promises we made
If you ever need holding
Call my name, and I’ll be there
If you ever need holding
And no holding back, I’ll see you through
Sky blue and black
Where the touch of the lover ends
And the soul of the friend begins
There’s a need to be separate and a need to be one
And a struggle neither wins
But you gave me the world I was in
And a place I could make a stand
I could…
Yeah, and I was much younger then
And I must have thought that I would know
If things were going to end
And the heavens were rolling
Like a wheel on a track
And our sky was unfolding
And it’ll never fold back
Sky blue and black
And I’d have fought the world for you
(I’d have fought the world for you)
If I thought that you wanted me to
Or put aside what was true or untrue (true or untrue)
If I’d know that’s what you needed
What you needed me to do
But the moment has passed by me now
You have put away my pride
And just come through for you somehow
If you ever need holding
Call my name, I’ll be there
If you ever need holding
And no holding back, I’ll see you through
You’re the color of the sky
Reflected in each store-front window pane
You’re the whispering and the sighing of my tires in the rain
You’re the hidden cost and the thing that’s lost
In everything I do
Yeah and I’ll never stop looking for you
In the sunlight and the shadows
And the faces on the avenue
That’s the way love is
That’s the way love is
That’s the way love is
Sky, sky blue and black