RS # 391: Jackson Browne, The Pretender


Jackson Browne The Pretender

Release Date: 1976
Previously Owned: No
First Time Listen: Yes

Oh Jackson, I’m sorry the ’60s had to end” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia.

Impressions: I was surprised by how much I liked his previous album on this list. Let’s see if he can keep it up… “The Fuse” is tasteful, well produced, but kind of a bore. I can see how people got tired of this stuff in ’76 and started getting into punk rock. It picks up up at the end. “Bright Baby Blues” sounds like Jackson Browne Prime: Acoustic guitar, melancholy lyrics, post hippie yearning, drug not-so-subtext– all maximally designed to get chicks/make you think in the ’70s soft rock era. “Mariachi” thing is …interesting and kind of fitting for the title of the album. Again, this is all 180 degrees from The Ramones. Not really feeling this album, seems like there’s a touch too much studio sheen on these songs. I’d rather hear him in a coffee house with an acoustic guitar, especially when he cooks up an honest, unflinching song like “The Pretender.” comes I guess like my navel-gazing to have a little more of a bite or something… although now I read that his wife committed suicide right before he recorded this. Yow. Still, didn’t quite grab me.

Starred Songs: “The Pretender”
Sneaky Track: “The Fuse”
Should this album be on the list? Naw. Didn’t grab me.
Replace with? Steely Dan’s Katy Lied came out around the same time, and is twice as slick, catchy and far more effective than this album
Will you listen to this again? No. I’ll stick with For Everyman to get my Jackson Brown fix
Verdict: Mushy, overproduced ’70s singer/songwriter soft-rock with a batch of songs that didn’t win me over.

Rating:  ★★