Top positive review
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Beautiful, delicate late 1960s offering
on 12 November 2005
I arrived at this album by a circuitous route. Several years ago I bought a compilation of acoustic recordings which contained Browne's sole hit, "Journey". It was the first time I'd heard of him, but this year I spotted his 2-CD anthology and couldn't resist the prospect of investigating further. About half of this album was included and it was clear that he was making some great music at the start of his recording career, better, in my opinion, than "Journey".
And the problem with anthologies is that they tend to collate material that doesn't fit together. Despite the insistence of the anthology sleeve notes to the contrary, Browne's output declined gradually in quality and became more mainstream over his twenty-five years of recording. It doesn't do justice to the "Give Me Take You" recordings to include it with later material. So, when I saw that this album was available on Amazon I had to buy it.
The dozen album tracks and five bonuses are marked out by Browne's gentle, but fine vocal delivery, his distinctive but simple acoustic guitar rhythms and the string quartet (I think) backing that attracts the "baroque pop" label. All of the tracks are high in quality, but some stand out that little bit more. The title track features a breathtaking multi-track vocal arrangement and "The Death Of Neil" an other-worldly blend of harmonies. "Alfred Bell" meanwhile is a classic singer/guitarist unaccompanied tale that stays with you. The melodies are fine throughout and Browne's images are vividly related. For those lucky enough to discover this album, it's essential.