What does it sound like?:
Running On Empty may not be Jackson Browne’s best album – well, it does have some pretty stiff competition after all – but perhaps surprisingly it is his biggest seller. This is a straight remaster of the original 1977 album, and thus excludes the two extra songs that appeared on the 2005 reissue. It’s not a live album as such – instead it’s a mixture of songs that were recorded in live environments rather than in a studio, be that in a concert setting, backstage, on the tour bus or in a hotel room. JB is accompanied throughout by a crack band that included David Lindley, Danny Kortchmar, Russ Kunkel and Leland Sklar among others. You simply don’t get a better supporting cast than that!
Although the two most well known pieces are the title track and the version of Stay (segued with The Load Out) that closes the album, it includes a number of very fine songs, as beautifully crafted and performed as you might expect. Having said that, only two songs are actually new Browne solo works, with four others being co-writes and the remaining four tracks being cover versions. None of the songs, unusually for what is effectively a live album, had previously appeared on a studio album. As well as the two songs mentioned, I’m particularly partial to the commercial rocker You Love The Thunder, The Road, which kicks off in a hotel room and ends on a stage, and Nothing But Time, recorded on the band’s Silver Eagle tour bus. Oh, I almost forgot to mention the gorgeous co-write with Lowell George Love Needs a Heart.
Another first class Browne record then, perhaps not as ambitious as some of his early works, but it more than makes up for that by being one of his most easily accessible albums for the newcomer. (where have you been?)
What does it all *mean*?
A live album with a difference, one that is in fact more a portrait of life on the road and the bonds formed in that unique environment
Goes well with…
Travelling – looking out at the road rushing under your wheels.
Might suit people who like…