Tag Archives: Jackson Browne

Enjoy Every Sandwich

20 Jul

Sandwich

Issued on Artemis Records/Rykodisc (RCD17304) in 2004, I picked this up last year for a ridiculously cheap price on Amazon. It’s a posthumous tribute to the songs of Warren Zevon, who died of mesothelioma in 2003.

The title is Zevon’s laconic response to an interview question about what having this terminal disease had taught him.

It’s an interesting mix of songs and artists paying tribute – not all of which work – but when they do, it’s terrific stuff.  Perhaps the two most noteworthy contributors are Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen. Both are live recordings – Dylan’s heartfelt take on Mutineer is let down by the sound quality but Springsteen’s version of My Ride’s Here is rather good.

Apart from those, my favourite track is The Wallflowers take on Lawyers, Guns and Money (such a great title and lyric) while Adam Sandler has a brave attempt at Werewolves of London which works well and although Jackson Browne and Bonnie Raitt don’t really add much to the original of  Poor, Poor Pitiful Me , it’s always good to hear them.

Others on the plus side are Steve Earle (Reconsider Me) and a poignant version of Don’t Let Us Get Sick from Jill Sobule while on the ‘not quite’ side are The Pixies and Pete Yorn.

If you see this cheap, my recommendation would be to buy it – but probably one for completists otherwise.

 

 

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Late for the Sky

3 Sep

LateJackson

Every time I play Jackson Browne‘s third album (from 1974, on Asylum Records) I’m reminded of just how damn good it is. I have most of Mr Browne’s material but this was the first one I bought and the one which remains the benchmark against which everything else is judged. (My copy of the  Best of… Live (Australian Tour Souvenir), from 2003, runs it close – but that’s not on general release as far as I know).

.Jackson Browne  had already released his next album (1976’s The Pretender) before I finally took the plunge and bought something by him. The problem was simply that,  in those days, there were not many UK media outlets through which you could check out artists without hit singles. All I really knew (largely from the three weeklies: Melody Maker, NME and Sounds plus expensive import copies of Rolling Stone and the excellent but erratically-distributed ZigZag magazine) was that Mr Browne was an American based on the West coast  who had released some albums on Asylum, who’d written some stuff for The Eagles and Linda Rondstadt [recently diagnosed with Parkinsons , sadly] and (bizarrely), the Jackson Five.  Hmm.  What clinched it though was a cover feature in ZigZag magazine and a cover version of an earlier song (Song for Adam on Kiki Dee‘s 1993 Loving and Free album. Kiki  (who went on to record the No.1 hit single Don’t Go Breaking My Heart  with Elton John) was a jobbing singer from Bradford who – weirdly -had  ended up the first ever white Motown artist! Elton liked her and signed her to his Rocket label and produced her album – which I’d bought.

I’m so glad I did. There are just eight tracks on Late for the Sky but six of these are jaw-droppingly good and rate 5 star on my Windows Media Player (a ratio not many Greatest Hits compilations can manage). . All of them deserve a namecheck so tip your hat to  Late for the Sky,  Fountain of Sorrow, The Late Show and Farther On from side one and Before the Deluge and the beautiful For A Dancer from side two. All literate, thoughtful and intelligent – as well as slickly-produced. The backing musicians are pretty classy too, including  Don Henley, J.D. Souther, Terry Reid and Dan Fogelberg – and finally, the Magritte-inspired cover art.

Warren Zevon

11 Jul

WZevon

Issued in 1976 on the Asylum label, this is the major-label debut of Warren Zevon and is an under-celebrated classic.

The first thing you notice is that the cast of musicians involves a high proportion of West coast rock royalty of the time: Jackson Browne (who also produced), Linsdey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks (shortly to go stratospheric with Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours) ; Don Henley and Glen Frey from The Eagles, Beach Boy Carl Wilson; Phil Everly; Bonnie Raitt; J.D. Souther and Waddy Watchel.

The second thing that hits you is the quality of every one of the eleven songs: Not just the three that  Linda Rondstadt popularised (‘Poor, Poor Pitiful Me’, ‘Carmelita’ and ‘Hasten Down The Wind’) but ‘I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead’, ‘Mama Couldn’t Be Persuaded,, ‘Frank and Jesse James’ and the autobiographical ‘Desperados Under the Eaves’.

Los Angeles was and is a long way from where I grew up and where I live now but I’ve always had a soft spot for the music and musicians it’s thrown up – although there’s an empty hedonistic side to it too, well described in Barney Hoskyn’s 2006 book Hotel California: Singer-songwriters and Cocaine Cowboys in the L.A. Canyons 1967-1976 .  I don’t have all Mr Zevon’s albums but I do have number. His was a slightly quirky, uneven talent  and I’m not sure anything he released subsequently, however great some tracks would be, would match this for consistent quality.

See My Friends

10 Apr

Seemyfriends

Neat idea – take the composer of some of the finest pop songs of the 1960s and get him to re-record them paired up with a bunch of admirers.  It did take a few listens before I warmed to this collection, which came out on Universal in 2010, because I kept thinking “how can this add something to the original?”. But after a while I found myself enjoying it – or at least most of it.

The opening track (‘Better Days’) with Bruce Springsteen sounds as if it could have been written by the Boss himself! The mash-up of ‘Days’ and ‘This Time Tomorrow’ with Mumford and Sons work really well as does ‘Lola’ with Paloma Faith. Sadly ‘Waterloo Sunset’ with Jackson Browne doesn’t work so well and ‘All Day and All Of The Night’ isn’t a patch on the original Kinks version.

One of the reasons I buy CDs more than download is because I am an obsessive reader of sleeve notes/booklets. Knowing who plays what on each track can really enhance listening as you can see if you can detect the differences between drummers or bassists or whatever. Similarly, good – or witty – notes also help and a nice part of this package are the paragraphs by Ray Davies on ‘Then’ and ‘Now’ reflecting on the origins of the song and its first recording and on the new collaboration.