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On the road
on 12 February 2012
Of all Jackson Browne`s thirteen studio albums, this is probably the most fun! In fact, it`s only part-studio, some tracks being taped `along the road` to quote the wonderful second track on ROE, the unequivocally titled The Road.
Opening this excellent 1977 record is the uptempo Running On Empty, as good as any song JB has ever written. He`s always had the ability to come up with a perfect marriage of melody and lyric, as on this irresistible song.
The Road is a a more ruminative song about - guess what? It`s one of his finest ballads, which is saying something.
Rosie is recorded live, a piano-led tale of a girl called, cunningly enough, Rosie. His singing on this one is full of character and that peculiar mix of melancholy and soulfulness that is JB`s trademark. Lovely.
You Love The Thunder is a truly great song, with a terrific slowed-down section in the chorus, and highly effective backing singing by Doug Hayward & Rosemary Butler -who happens to sound exactly like Joni.
Cocaine is the old folk song, performed well enough, with a slurred spoken coda I could`ve done without...
Shaky Town has another killer vocal from JB - he really did push the boat out vocally on this album - and some eloquent guitar breaks courtesy of either David Lindley or Danny Kortchmar, not sure which, probably the Kortch as he wrote it.
Love Needs A Heart is yet one more gorgeous Browne ballad. Enough said.
The last three tracks are live, beginning with Nothing But Time, followed by the superb The Load-Out - we`re evidently leaving this gig soon - seguing into the exhilarating, tongue-slightly-in-cheek, mostly Lindley-sung Stay, the old Maurice Williams song that was a hit for Doris Tory and my beloved Hollies back in the sixties.
And that`s it. You can`t help feeling you`ve been on some kind of road-trip with JB and his red-hot band after listening to this benchmark album from one of the finest, most durable of the many singer-songwriters who came to the fore in the 1970s.