Posts Tagged ‘Asylum Records’

Stand In The Fire: Warren Zevon’s Incendiary Live Album

Warren Zevon (1947-2003) – 1970s – The excitable boy, Mr. bad Example himself, Warren Zevon, a songwriter with few equals who is best remembered for his 1978 hit “Werewolves of London,” But Zevon was so much more than his signature song. Beginning in 1976 with his debut album on Asylum Records, “Warren Zevon”, He captured the attention of Linda Ronstadt who recorded “Poor Poor Pitiful Me,” a Zevon penned tune which she turned into a Top 30 hit in 1978. Songs like “Mohammed’s Radio,” “Frank and Jesse James,” “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead,” and “Hasten Down the Wind,” (also covered by Ronstadt), all on his debut album displayed Zevon’s penchant for history and a soft, sweet side. It was his second Asylum album “Excitable Boy,” (1978) that established Zevon as a writer of great wit, skill, and whimsy.

The disc was filled with Zevon gems: “Johnny Strikes Up the Band” “Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner” “Lawyers, Guns, and Money” and “Accidentally Like a Martyr” and had the added cachet of being produced by Zevon’s pal Jackson Browne. Although Zevon’s career didn’t have the upward trajectory of Browne’s, He was a cult favourite, knocking out crowd pleasers at his often unrestrained lives shows. With titles like “If You Won’t Leave Me I’ll Find Somebody Who Will” “Gorilla You’re a Desperado” and “Detox Mansion,” he endeared himself to his legion of followers. In the early 2000s, he was diagnosed with Mesothelioma, which cut his life and art short. But he began work on his final album “The Wind,” in early 2003, completing it in time to see it rise high into the Top 10 with songs like his cover of Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” and the heartbreaking “Keep Me in Your Heart,” Zevon was buoyed on the album by help from his friends including Bruce Springsteen on the barnburner “Disorder in the Court.” Jackson Browne, Don Henley, Joe Walsh, David Lindley, and Dwight Yoakam all lent their talents to the album as well. Zevon made appearances on the David Letterman show right up until the end when the talk show host and his friend turned over the entire hour to him. It was during this final appearance on Letterman on October 30th, 2002, that Zevon repeated his oft-quoted advice on dying: “Enjoy every sandwich,” Zevon’s acerbic wit, great sensitivity, and writing prowess will keep him in the hearts of those who loved his style for a long time to come.

Warren Zevon’s  “Stand In The Fire”, recorded over a five-night period at the Roxy Theatre in West Hollywood in August 1980, is not only one of Zevon’s best albums, it is also one of the most affecting live albums of the decade.

After more than ten years of drink and drugs excesses, the newly-sober Zevon, then 33, was in a better place when it came to this run of summer gigs. He was in jocular form, joking that the concerts should be called “The Dog Ate The Part We Didn’t Like Tour”, and said he was happy to be back performing in Los Angeles, the city where he had grown up. Asked by Rolling Stone magazine how it felt to be on stage in front of an enthusiastic home crowd, Zevon replied, “Let’s just say that it was like rescuing the little boy who’d fallen through the ice. Rescuing him while the whole world was watching.”

Stand In The Fire, which was released by Asylum Records on 26th December 1980, carried the dedication “For Marty”, in tribute to Zevon’s friend, the film director Martin Scorsese. The album opened with the previously unreleased title track, which was immediately followed by “Jenny Needs A Shooter”, a song co-written with Zevon’s friend Bruce Springsteen.

Though Zevon was taking prescription painkillers and steroids for a strained nerve in his back, the singer-songwriter was remarkably full of energy for the gigs, in which he displayed his usual mordant wit. For the live version of On “Mohammed’s Radio”, Zevon altered the original lyrics from “You know the sheriff’s got his problems, too/He will surely take them out on you” to “Ayatollah’s got his problems, too/Even Jimmy Carter’s got the highway blues”, in a tongue-in-cheek reference to the Iran hostage crisis that was dominating the news at the time.

Despite being harvested from multiple performances, “Stand In The Fire” feels cohesive, which is partly down to the excellence and consistency of the terrific backing musicians, who were largely unknown at the time. The band, who called themselves Boulder, comprised Zevon on vocals, piano and 12-string guitar, Roberto Piñón on bass and backing vocals, Marty Stinger on drums, Zeke Zirngiebel on rhythm, lead, and slide guitar, Bob Harris on synthesiser and piano, and David Landau on lead guitar.

The shows were produced by Zevon and Greg Ladanyi. During the rocking performance of “Poor Poor Pitiful Me”, one of the stand-out songs from Zevon’s self-titled debut album, Zevon halts midway through the track and drags George Gruel, his then “road manager and best friend”, on stage to fire up the crowd. Gruel grabbed the microphone and gleefully announced, “Get up and dance, or I’ll kill ya. And I’ve got the means!”

Zevon’s version of his perennially popular “Werewolves Of London” is peppered with witty ad libs about the musicians Jackson Browne and James Taylor, and director Brian De Palma, whose violent film Dressed To Kill had been one of the most talked about releases that summer. Zevon also performed a slowed down version of “Lawyers, Guns And Money” along with high-energy versions of “Excitable Boy” and “The Sin”. He also growled his way through the autobiographical song “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead”, before the album ended with a cover of Bo Diddley’s “A Gunslinger”, which had been a R&B hit in 1960 for an artist that Zevon admired deeply.

There were ten tracks on the original 1980 release of Stand In The Fire, but when Asylum/Rhino remastered the album in 2007, they added four additional songs: “Johnny Strikes Up The Band, Play It All Night Long, Frank And Jesse James” and “Hasten Down The Wind”.

On the final two tracks, Zevon played piano and first delivered a poignant, reflective version of a song about two cowboy legends before launching into one of his most affecting compositions about love, “Hasten Down The Wind”. Zevon first recorded the song in 1976.

Zevon’s version at the Roxy was preceded with a moving speech, in which he explained the song’s meaning to the audience. “This is a song that I’d like to play for you that I wrote a decade ago, just about. This is the song that came along and intervened between myself and starvation, thanks to Miss Ronstadt. In those days, you know, when I wrote this song, I was not a very happy fellow. I was poor and strung out and screwed up… and now I’m just screwed up. No, I’m very happy, thank you, thank you very much. Because everybody gotta change sometimes. Speaking as one who has abused privilege for a long time, I tell you, it’s great to be alive. Thank you.”

It was a fitting way to close a splendid live album that captures all that is great about Warren Zevon, who died at the age of 56 in 2003.

One of the more difficult side effects of this very strange year is bidding farewell to a number of musical luminaries due to the COVID-19 pandemic. John Prine‘s passing looms large among them, not only as one of the first cases but in light of the incredible few years he’d had: in 2018, his 18th album The Tree of Forgiveness became his first-ever Top 5 album, and in February 2020, only two months before he died, he earned a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

On October 23rd, fans new and old will have the chance to discover or rediscover what made him such an enduring legend of folk music with the release of a new box set from Rhino Records. Crooked Piece of Time: The Atlantic & Asylum Albums collates his first seven releases from 1971 to 1980, newly remastered and packaged in mini replicas of the original LP jackets. The box, featuring a new painting of Prine by Joshua Petker (inspired by a photo of him taken by Jim Shea), will also include a 20-page booklet featuring new liner notes by David Fricke and poster inserts.

Though an incredibly gifted songwriter, Prine was hiding in plain sight through the late ’60s and early ’70s, delivering mail in Chicago after serving in Vietnam and performing open-mic gigs on the side. But only a few months into his time at the small folk club The Fifth Peg, Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert happened to be in attendance for one of his gigs, and wrote a rapturous review that put Prine on the map. A year later, Kris Kristofferson happened upon a gig, and invited Prine to open for him at The Bitter End in New York City; Jerry Wexler signed him to Atlantic Records off the strength of that performance.

Prine’s song writing catalogue remains among the most evocative American folk music of the late 20th century, and many of his most beloved songs are on this collection, including “Angel From Montgomery,” “Paradise,” “Sam Stone,” “The Great Compromise,” “Christmas In Prison,” “That’s The Way That The World Goes ‘Round” and many more. A host of luminaries have covered his songs over the years, spreading their influence far beyond his original albums, including Johnny Cash, Bonnie Raitt, John Denver, George Strait, Norah Jones, The Everly Brothers, Bette Midler and Tammy Wynette.

Pre-order Crooked Piece of Time at the links below and check out a list of each album included in the set below. Additionally, links are live for new vinyl pressings of the first four albums in this set, due out September 18th.

Crooked Piece of Time: The Atlantic & Asylum Albums (Rhino, 2020)

Disc 1: John Prine (Atlantic SD 8296, 1971) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. / Amazon Canada)
Disc 2: Diamonds In The Rough (Atlantic SD 7240, 1972) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. / Amazon Canada)
Disc 3: Sweet Revenge (Atlantic SD 7274, 1973) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. / Amazon Canada)
Disc 4: Common Sense (Atlantic SD 18127, 1975) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. / Amazon Canada)
Disc 5: Bruised Orange (Asylum 6E-139, 1978)
Disc 6: Pink Cadillac (Asylum 6E-222, 1979)
Disc 7: Storm Windows (Asylum 6E-286, 1980)

American singer-songwriter and The Byrds founding member Gene Clark’s 1974 solo album “No Other” is to be reissued by 4AD Records in November as a lavish box set which features no fewer than three SACDs, a blu-ray and an 80-page hardcover book!.

Originally released on Asylum Records, a year after the Byrds shortlived reunion, Clark’s psychedelic rock, folk, country and soul record cost a small fortune to make and despite being well received critically, it was a flop. It is said that Clark never really recovered from this blow. Since then, the album has gained greater prominence via a few reissues and has become recognised as a great album of its era. Recorded at the Village Recorder in West Hollywood and produced by Thomas Jefferson Kaye, “No Other” was originally released in 1974 on Asylum Records, Reaching for the stars, Gene delivered a visionary record of psychedelic rock, folk, country and soul which famously cost a small fortune to make (“It took a lot of time in the studio before we could actually get the songs to the point we wanted them,” Gene said in 1977).  Although warmly received by critics, No Other was a commercial failure and was subsequently deleted shortly after.

However, as The New York Times wrote around the record’s 40th anniversary in 2014, “hindsight has burnished No Other, as it has redeemed other albums that went on to be reconstructed as rock repertory, like Big Star’s Third/Sister Lovers and Lou Reed’s Berlin,” with No Other now being increasingly recognised as one of the greatest of its time, if not all time.  Another sign of the album’s enduring charm came that year when feted Baltimore duo Beach House decided to “spread awareness”of Gene’s master work by enlisting friends – most of whom weren’t born when No Other was released – from bands such as Fleet Foxes, Grizzly Bear and The Walkmen to tour the album note-for-note in both the UK and the US.

Five years on from then andNo Otheris finally getting the reappraisal it deserves.  The original tapes have been remastered at Abbey Road, a stunning 5.1 Surround mix of this album created for the first time (done by Neil Wilkes & B.J. Cole at Opus Productions), and both the in the studio and promotional photoshoots have been located.  Furthermore, all the studio takes have been forensically worked on and mixed by the duo of Gene Clark aficionado, author and Long Ryders frontman Sid Griffin and John Wood, More than just bonus material, these tracks offer fans an insight in to how Gene approached recording No Other; no track has been edited or composited in any way, allowing for things to be heard exactly as they went down in the studio and before any overdubbing took place.

4AD have remastered the eight-track album at Abbey Road and are reissuing it on CD and vinyl, There will also be an ‘extremely limited’ deluxe box set which contains the album on silver-coloured vinyl, three SACDs, an exclusive seven-inch single, and a blu-ray disc – which includes HD versions of all tracks, a 5.1 surround mix of the album, the original 1974 vinyl master and an exclusive documentary by Paul Kendall (the director of the 2013 film, The Byrd Who Flew Alone: The Triumphs and Tragedy of Gene Clark) – and a hardbound 80 page book which features essays, extensive liner notes and previously unseen photos.

All the studio takes have been worked on and mixed by the duo of Gene Clark aficionado, author and Long Ryders frontman Sid Griffin and John Wood, the producer famed for his work with the likes of Fairport Convention, Nick Drake & Sandy Denny. No track has been edited or composited in any way so what you hear is exactly what went down in the studio before any overdubbing took place.

All the SACDs are hybrid, meaning you can play the stereo audio on normal CD players. The first (multi-layer) SACD is presented in an exclusive Japanese vinyl replica sleeve and features the eight-track album and the 5.1 surround mix, while two further SACDs offer 18 session tracks and a couple of seven-inch edits. Amongst the sessions is a recording of ‘Train Leaves Here This Morning,’ an Eagles hit in 1972, written by Gene and Eagles founding member Bernie Leadon.

Coming on the eve of Gene’s 75th birthday, this reissue serves as both a celebration for fans and an introduction to soon-to-be fans.  There really is no other like No Other.

Few singer-songwriters embodied the late-’70s California sound as much as Jackson Browne.  He started out writing for others in the previous decade, but broke onto the scene as a solo artist with his 1972 self-titled debut (sometimes referred to as Saturate Before Using).  Five years later, he made waves with Running On Empty, a collection of 10 new songs recorded live during his 1977 tour.  Several tracks were taken from the band’s performance at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Maryland and the Garden State Arts Center in Holmdel, New Jersey.  But further tracks were recorded in more intimate spaces — various hotel rooms, rehearsal spaces, or “on a bus (a Continental Silver Eagle) somewhere in New Jersey.”

It takes awhile for your ears to acclimate to what you’re hearing when you drop the needle on Jackson Browne’s “Running On Empty”. It’s just the droning roar of people, a crowd – something that, in the year and a half the world has been living with COVID-19, isn’t as common as it used to be. Then, like a rocket, Browne and his band kick into high gear with the title track. Browne, with that golden voice that was, at the time, a staple of rock radio waves for a decade, sings with clarity and conviction:

Looking out at the road rushing under my wheels
Looking back at the years gone by like so many summer fields
’65, I was 17 and running up 101
I don’t know where I’m running now, I’m just running on

It’s as classic as his type of rock and roll gets: instantly relatable, meshing the everlasting promise of youth with the vaguer realities of adulthood, hurtling toward a future that has no guarantees.

No matter the space, Browne and his band (featuring David Lindley on lap steel and fiddle, along with members of The Section) delivered stellar performances that have been lauded by critics since the album’s original release more than four decades ago. Running On Empty became Browne’s best-selling album, peaking at No. 3 on the Billboard Albums chart and eventually achieving a 7x Platinum certification from the RIAA.

Now, that legendary album – featuring such classics as “Running On Empty” and “The Load-Out / Stay” – will be re-released on CD, vinyl, and through digital download and streaming providers.  Arriving on July 5th from Asylum/Rhino, the new edition of Running On Empty features a fresh remaster by Gavin Lurssen of Lurssen Mastering.  The vinyl edition, meanwhile, was mastered by Ron McMaster and will be presented on 180-gram vinyl pressed at Pallas.

Running on Empty is not a typical live album. None of the songs took hold on other LPs beforehand. Not all of them were recorded in concert. Some, yes – including album bookends from a rousing show at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, MD on August 27th, 1977 – but others were taped in spacious rehearsals, behind the thin walls of motel rooms, and even on a tour bus somewhere down the highways of New Jersey.

But its polish is considerable; for that, you can thank the all-star band backing him up, including session legends like guitarists Danny Kortchmar and David Lindley, keyboardist Craig Doerge, bassist Leland Sklar and drummer Russ Kunkel. (They were the House band for Browne’s label Asylum, playing on albums for Linda Ronstadt and Warren Zevon as well as Carole King’s “Tapesty” and James Taylor’s “Sweet Baby James” .

Moreover, it’s a live document that transcends its typical mission – a souvenir of what it was like to see the singer-songwriter in concert – and becomes a heartfelt commentary of life on the road.

Second track “The Road” offers a powerful confessional to the mundanity of a touring artist’s life, spliced brilliantly between a close-quarters version in a motel room and a version in front of a crowd. “Rosie” is a forlorn song about a girl with a backstage pass – told with none of the salaciousness you might expect of such a tune in the ’70s, with weary harmonies supplied by Browne’s tour photographer. Some songs sound like they could fit into any of Browne’s studio LPs of powerful Everyman observations (“You Love the Thunder,” “Love Needs a Heart”). Others – a cover of J.J. Cale’s “Cocaine,” the original “Nothing But Time” featuring a bus’ shifting gears and Kunkel’s box-tapped percussion – are one-of-a-kind sparks that could only happen here.

The album’s penultimate tune, “The Load-Out,” is a real gut-punch: over his piano and Lindley’s lap steel, Browne sings a tender tune about the people and scenes that make such a tour possible – opening a window to the audience about what goes on when the lights come up and everyone heads out of the parking lot and into the night. More than 40 years later – long after the album spent nearly a year on the USA chart, outsold all of Browne’s other albums and picked up a Grammy Award nomination for Album of the Year – it hits just as hard, in a year marred by illness, death, financial hardships, uncertainty and the wish that, just for a minute, things could go back to something approaching normal and we could go back to enjoying concerts like the ones we hear here.

Then, just as the emotions reach their peak and the song seems ready to come to an emotional end, Browne and the band have one more trick up their sleeves: a cheeky cover of Maurice Williams and The Zodiacs’ “Stay,” rewritten to reflect the thrill of chasing “one more song.” Rosemary Butler’s soaring co-lead vocals – and Lindley’s falsetto, Frankie Valli-esque last chorus – bring the listeners and the players together in one, brilliant truth: the show doesn’t ever have to end, and the needle never has to leave the record.

Jackson Browne caught the attention of fans with a notable single track, “Doctor My Eyes” from his debut release, often referred to as Saturate Before Using (1972). From there, Jackson Browne became an essential staple of Southern California Rock alongside such artists as Poco, The Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, David Lindley, and Warren Zevon. He released several more classic studio sets, including The Pretender album before issuing a live set that would elevate him to a higher status as a recording artist.

The Section featuring Craig Doerge, Danny Kortchmar, Leland Sklar and Russ Kunkel reunite with Jackson Browne at the 2018 NAMM TEC Awards held at the NAMM Show in Anaheim, CA., to perform “Running On Empty”.

On July 12, Elektra will reissue Running On Empty on CD, and vinyl LP and present the classic album with new remastering. However, there are no other adds to this set. The ten songs from the original were tracks performed in various live settings like hotel rooms, tour bus, stages, and a rehearsal room. A DD version will arrive sooner for the remastered classic on July 5.

A single reissue of newly remastered “The Load Out”/”Stay” was released on June 21st digitally.

While some fans may want to hold onto their long-out-of-print previous editions, the newly remastered CD, vinyl, and digital versions that arrive on July 5th will no doubt be essential listening for those who might be new to Browne’s music.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, playing a musical instrument and guitar

Jackson Browne is perhaps the quintessential 1970s singer-songwriter, a sensitive individual who analysed his difficult relationships into songs. On September 14th Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. will introduce Jackson Browne as he receives the Gandhi Peace Award from Promoting Enduring Peace,

He was extremely well connected into the 1970s Laurel Canyon Californian scene – he dated Laura Nyro and Joni Mitchell, wrote the Eagles’ first hit single, and produced Warren Zevon’s breakthrough album. Browne has written and recorded songs such as “These Days”, “The Pretender”, “Running on Empty”, “Lawyers in Love”, “Doctor My Eyes”, “Take It Easy”, “For a Rocker”, and “Somebody’s Baby”.

Primarily, Browne’s a lyricist, and certainly one of the best text writers in pop music, After a period in the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Browne left and after a few months and moved to Greenwich Village, New York, where he became a staff writer for Elektra Records‘ publishing company, Nina Music before his eighteenth birthday. He spent the remainder of 1967 and 1968 in Greenwich Village, where he backed Tim Buckley and singer Nico of the Velvet Underground. In 1967, Browne and Nico became romantically linked and he became a significant contributor to her debut album, Chelsea Girl, writing and playing guitar on several of the songs (including “These Days”). In 1968, following his breakup with Nico, Browne returned to Los Angeles, where he formed a folk band with Ned Doheny and Jack Wilce, and first met Glenn Frey.

Jackson Browne’s most artistically successful decade was the 1970s, during which he made five studio important studio albums. Browne’s right hand man in the 1970s was multi instrumentalist a guitarist, fiddler, and falsetto vocalist David Lindley, who enlivened Browne’s albums with his instrumental work. Browne’s voice is boyish, and not always engaging, and Lindley helped to make his records more accessible.

Jackson Browne  – Saturate Before Using (1972)

In 1971, Browne signed with his manager David Geffen’s Asylum Records and released his debut Jackson Browne (subtitled Saturate Before Using) produced and engineered by Richard Orshoff, which included the piano-driven “Doctor My Eyes” was the surprise hit, which entered the Top Ten in the US singles chart. “Rock Me on the Water”, from the same album, also gained considerable radio airplay, while “Song for Adam” (written about his friend Adam Saylor’s death) helped establish Browne’s reputation. Touring to promote the album, he shared the bill with Linda Ronstadt and Joni Mitchell.

Doctor My Eyes was Browne’s first single, and one of only two Top 10 hits he’s had, is one of the most musically upbeat songs he’s recorded, despite the bummer subject material. It’s basically a precursor to the searching, longing and disenchanted character who showed up in so many of Browne’s songs in the ’70s. It’s a little heavy-handed, as far as the sentiment goes — “Tell me what is wrong,” he sings. “Was I unwise to leave them open for so long?” — but it sets the template for almost every Top 10 Jackson Browne song.

Jackson Browne’s debut release didn’t emerge for six years after he had wrote ‘These Days’ for the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. His first record, was for David Geffen’s Asylum label .The album, is his most minimal, and outside the singles, his material is simply presented – it’s the only 1970s album that guitarist David Lindley doesn’t appear on. It’s the singles that shine  was the surprise hit, but I prefer the gospel-tinged ‘Rock Me On The Water’ and the plaintive ‘Jamaica Say You Will’. 

The daughter of a captain on the rolling seas
She would stare across the water from the trees

For Everyman (1973)

Browne raided his back catalogue for his second album, featuring his well known songs like ‘These Days’ and ‘Take It Easy’ cowritten with Eagles’ Glenn Frey, had already been a major success for that group, while his own recording of “These Days” reflected a sound representing Browne’s angst. Gregg Allmanreleased a version on his 1973 albumLaid Back.But it’s Browne’s sad, plaintive take of the song — which he wrote while still a teen growing up in the mid ’60s — that nails the melancholic tone of the lyrics.

The arrangements are fuller, and David Lindley’s guitar and fiddle parts are prominent, joining The Section musicians Russ Kunkel, Craig Doerge, and Leland Sklar. Elton John plays piano on the rollicking ‘Redneck Friend’, but my favourite track here is ‘For Everyman’, a post apocalyptic vision of sailing to a new society, featuring David Crosby on backing vocals.

Everybody’s just waiting to hear from the one
Who can give them the answers
And lead them back to that place
In the warmth of the sun
Where sweet childhood still dances

Running on Empty  (1977)

Jackson Browne’s best known work is a live album of all new songs, themed around the seedy side of a musician’s life on the road. Browne was a big enough star by 1977 to take The Section and David Lindley on tour as his backing band, and the album was recorded live on stage, as well as in hotel rooms and backstage. Running on Empty was recorded entirely on tour, It became his biggest commercial success. Breaking the usual conventions for a live album, Running on Empty contains some of his most popular songs, such as the title track, “Rosie”, and “The Load-Out/Stay” (Browne’s send-off to his concert audiences and roadies). “The Load-Out” runs down the daily monotony of tour life (“We’ve got truckers on the CB/We’ve got Richard Pryor on the video/We got time to think of the ones we love, while the miles roll away”) before giving way to an exuberant cover of Maurice Williams & the Zodiacs’ 1960 No. 1 doo-wop hit featuring vocals by members of Browne’s band. Criminally, the songs were split when “Stay” was released as a single in 1978, with “The Load-Out” shoved to the flip side on later pressings.

Unusually, Browne includes covers, like a charming version of ‘Stay’ spotlighting Lindley’s falsetto vocals, and co-writers on most tracks. But the title track, one of only two Browne solo compositions, is the standout track, a sweeping, Springsteen like tale of nostalgia and determination.

Running on Empty is one of the most revolutionary live albums ever made. Instead of going through their usual set of hits and favorites, Browne and his band recorded new songs onstage, backstage, at soundchecks and wherever else inspiration might have hit them. Fittingly, most of the songs are about touring; the album doubles as a concept album about being on the road. This one, which was released as a single, sympathizes with the wives, girlfriends and groupies who are along for the ride. It’s one of his most autobiographical songs — check out the years and ages he runs through in the song and a sign of things to come. “I don’t know where I’m running now, I’m just running on”turned out to hold some truth: After three classic albums in a row, Browne turned to mostly political subjects in the ’80s with a string of mediocre records.

Look around for the friends that I used to turn to to pull me through
Looking into their eyes I see them running too

The Pretender  (1976)

Browne’s life was hit by personal tragedy during the recording of The Pretender – his wife Phyllis Major committed suicide, leaving Browne as a young solo father. These events are covered in the brief, wrenching ‘Sleep’s Dark and Silent Gate’. Production duties on Browne’s fourth album are handled by Jon Landau, who gives Browne’s music more detail than usual. ‘The Fuse’ is one of my favourite Jackson Browne deep cuts, and the title track is a fascinating look forward to 1980s yuppies. The closing track of Browne’s fourth album is also a summation of sorts of the previous seven songs, a nearly six-minute breakdown of one man’s occasionally harsh, and almost always dishonest, survival instincts. He lies, he cheats, he screws, and tomorrow he’ll do the same damn thing, even if he knows there’s something morally wrong at the core of it all. All that ’60s idealism had finally given way to mid-’70s cynicism, worn down by war, Watergate and crushing dreams.

At times, Browne’s fourth album plays like a eulogy for his wife, who killed herself in early 1976; at other times, it plays like a eulogy for his growing disillusionment with the leftover and broken promises from the idealistic ’60s. This song — one of the best Jackson Browne songs, a Top 25 single co-written by his late wife’s mother — falls into the former category, as Browne futilely tries to hide the scars of his broken heart. He’s bitter, angry and not ready to forgive. But most of all he’s at his most revealing here.

But my favourite track is ‘Your Bright Baby Blues’, with its warm arrangements and amazing backing band; Little Feat’s Lowell George is prominent on slide guitar and backing vocals, Bill Payne on organ, E-Street Band’s Roy Bittan on piano, Chuck Rainey on bass, and Jim Gordon on drums.

No matter how fast I run
I can never seem
To get away from me

Late For The Sky (1974)

Jackson Browne attained maximum Jackson Browne-ness with his third album, featuring gorgeous meditations on death and the apocalypse, accompanied by David Lindley’s guitar and fiddle. To save his label money after the expensive For Everyman, Browne used his live band, and they sound great.  Browne’s work began to demonstrate a reputation for memorable melody, insightful, often very personal lyrics, and a talent for his arrangements in composition. Apart from the mundane rocker ‘Walking Slow’, every track is strong, and mournful expositions like ‘For A Dancer’ and ‘Fountain of Sorrow’ are prime Browne. Highlights included the title song, the elegiac “For a Dancer”, and “Before the Deluge”, . The arrangements featured the violin and guitar of David Lindley, Jai Winding’s piano, and the harmonies of Doug Haywood. The title track was also featured in Martin Scorsese’s film Taxi Driver. During this period, Browne began his fractious but lifelong professional relationship with singer-songwriter Warren Zevon, mentoring Zevon’s first two Asylum albums through the studio as a producer (working closely with Waddy Wachtel and Jorge Calderón).

Much of Jackson Browne’s songs on his terrific third album play like a deep, despairing farewell to an old love. This song — one of the album’s many centerpieces — piles on the apocalyptic dread. It could be heralding the end of a relationship … or maybe something much, much bigger. In a way, it foreshadows themes of growing up and out of youthful idealism found on The Pretender, and Running on Empty, but with more widespread and cataclysmic results.

But my favourite song is the title track, especially the moment when Browne’s voice cracks on the final note.

How long have I been sleeping?

Browne’s epic opener to his third album sets the tone for a record that plays like one long breakup montage. This is a key track in the story — the moment where that tiny glimmer of hope is wiped out by cold, hard reality. The song also plays a pivotal part in the movie Taxi Driver,underscoring a scene in which Robert De Niro’s brooding sociopath loses what’s left of his loose grip on reality. Not sure if this is what Browne had in mind for the song, but it serves a similar purpose.

Last February, Omnivore Recordings released singer-songwriter JD Souther’s three efforts for Asylum Records on CD, remastered with extra bonus tracks and new liner notes informed by interviews with SoutherNo Depressioncalled them: “A worthy upgrade and a good introduction for those who haven’t yet dug into JD Souther.” Relixpredicted the reissues would “bring belated appreciation” to the albums. “Kudos to Omnivore for re-introducing Souther and his work to a brand new audience.”
On September 21st, 2018, Omnivore Recordings will release the trio of classic albums  John David Souther, Black Rose and Home by Dawn on high-quality vinyl. All three have been cut from the original analog masters by Kevin Gray at Cohearent, overseen by Souther himself and Omnivore’s Cheryl Pawelski and pressed atRTI on 180-gram vinyl. These new reissues also feature a little bit of updated art on the Black Rosealbum — no longer featuring the artist name and title, as was originally intended. In every other way, they are presented as they were originally released.
Before he was co-writing Eagles hits like “Best of My Love,” “New Kid in Town,” and “Heartache Tonight with Glenn Frey and Don Henley, Souther formed Longbranch/Pennywhistle with Frey when they were roommates. Their downstairs neighbour was a fellow by the name of Jackson Browne, who took Souther to audition for his boss, David Geffen, who’d recently formed the Asylum Records label. After hearing two songs, Geffen told Souther to “go make a record.” And, that’s exactly what he did. 
John David Souther (Expanded Edition)
John David Souther released in 1971, and was immediately a critical success and established Souther as a, if not the songwriter to watch. (He would be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame 42 years later.) 
Co-produced by Souther and Fred Catero (who had recently finished Santana’s Abraxas), John David Southerfeatured 10 originals — all stunning, and many of which would be covered by artists like Bonnie Raitt (“Run Like a Thief”) and Souther’s old friends The Eagles, who released “How Long” as the first single from their 2007 comeback and multi-platinum smash, Long Road Out of Eden.
John David Souther was, and is, the perfect introduction to the singer and performer behind the songs. Still relevant over four decades later, the recording shows the emergence of one of music’s most influential artists. 
After his impressive debut, Souther worked with Chris Hillman (Byrds, Flying Burrito Brothers) and Richie Furay (Buffalo Springfield, Poco) in the short-lived Souther/Hillman/Furay Band. But, at that same time, his songwriting reputation grew, as friends and colleagues took his material to commercial heights. 
Black Rose

Five years after John David Souther, Black Rose appeared. Beautifully helmed by Peter Asher, the album was not only full of incredible songs, but a who’s who of musicians including Lowell George (Little Feat), Joe Walsh, Waddy Wachtel, Jim Keltner, Andrew Gold, Russ Kunkel, Donald Byrd, and Stanley Clarke — with David Crosby, Art Garfunkel, Don Henley and Glenn Frey adding their voices. In addition to the lush production and instrumentation, Souther’s ten songs were again exceptional. Linda Ronstadt had previously recorded “Faithless Love” on her breakthrough Heart Like a Wheel album, and would tackle “Simple Man, Simple Dream” in 1977 — even basing that year’s album title on the song. (For the record, Ronstadt has recorded 10 Souther tracks, a relationship that began with his production on her 1973 album Don’t Cry Now, also named for a Souther composition.)

Black Rose” was an ambitious undertaking, and it took a long time,” Souther states in the liners. “I wanted to use all the musical influences I had, and I really had to dig deep. But when we were finished, I was almost as pleased with it as if it had sold a million copies. Almost.” 
After hitting the Top 10 twice with “You’re Only Lonely” and his duet with James Taylor, “Her Town Too,” 
Home By Dawn

Souther released his only 1980s album  Home by Dawn, produced by David Malloy (Eddie Rabbit, Kenny Rogers, Reba McEntire).Souther took distinctive creative turns with each release, Home by Dawn emerged at the beginning of the new wave of country music. In fact, legendary producer/engineer, and David’s father,Jim Malloy (Townes Van Zandt, Eddy Arnold, Sammi Smith), told Souther, “You were about 15 minutes ahead of your time!” That timing was confirmed when Dixie Chicks covered “I’ll Take Care of You” on their platinum album Wide Open Spaces

The album has steadily earned a reputation as the groundbreaking and influential statement it was, and continues to be. From rock to roots-rock to rockabilly, Home by Dawn took Souther in a direction reflecting his Texas upbringing. Now is the perfect time to discover — or rediscover the songs of John David Souther. 

a brand new 2LP collection of Judee Sill demos, outtakes and rarities making their debut
on 180 Gram vinyl. Songs of Rapture and Redemptions: Rarities & Live will be a limited and numbered pressing.

Judee Sill may not have been commercially successful in her short recording stint, but her influence looms large with recording artists such as Warren Zevon, Andy Partridge, Liz Phair, Beth Orton, Bill Callahan, Bonnie Prince Billy and more having covered her songs. The Turtles recorded “Lady-O” in 1969, two years before Sill’s 1971 debut album on Asylum Records contained that song.

Hailing from California, Judith Lynn Sill was an American singer songwriter born 10/7/44. Her father owned a bar in Oakland and that’s where Judee initially learned how to play piano. Sill met, befriended and started opening shows for Graham Nash and David Crosby in the mid-to-late 1960s. After a bit of interest from Atlantic Records, David Geffen offered Judee a contract and she became the first artist to sign with his then fledgling Asylum label. During her early days at Asylum she sold her song Lady-O to the Turtles and was featured on the cover of Rolling Stone. Graham Nash produced her first single, “Jesus Was A Cross Maker,” off her self-titled debut album which was released on September 15, 1971 and engineered by Henry Lewy who worked with Joni Mitchell throughout the 1970s. The song was inspired by her romance with singer songwriter JD Souther. He later wrote the song, “Something In the Dark,” about her.

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The album featured Sill’s voice in multiple overdubs, often in a four-part chorale or fugue. Her debut album was not a commercial success, despite good reviews. Sill took over orchestration and arrangements for her second album, “Heart Food,” which was released in March of 1973. The album was critically acclaimed but sold poorly which ended her association with Asylum and David Geffen. Judee continued to write songs and in 1974 began to record new material planned for a third album that was never finished. By this time she relapsed into more drug use and developed health problems. After a series of car accidents and failed surgery for back pain, Sill continued to struggle with drug addiction and dropped out of the music scene completely. Judee tragically died of a drug overdose on November 23, 1979 at her apartment in North Hollywood. Judee Sill’s music was not commercially viable at the time but was incredibly influential as well as ground-breaking and many notable songwriters admired her work and covered her songs.

Warren Zevon’s self-titled 1976 album announced he was one of the most striking talents to emerge from the Los Angeles soft rock singer/songwriter community, and Linda Ronstadt (a shrewd judge of talent if a sometimes questionable interpreter) recorded three of its songs on two of her biggest-selling albums, which doubtlessly earned Zevon bigger royalty checks than the album itself ever did.

His own breakthrough album from the songwriter’s songwriter from LA. Warren Zevon had been knocking around since the late ‘60s, but with the championing of Jackson Browne, the Eagles and Linda Ronstadt (who recorded a bunch of his tunes) and subsequently the patronage of David Geffen at Asylum Records, he finally connected in a big way. The fact that it was with “Werewolves of London”, the most throwaway song he’d recorded for the label at that point didn’t matter; it was still a great song, and a great entre to Zevon’s weird and violent world. The title track, “Lawyers, Guns & Money”, “Accidentally Like a Martyr” and the seriously wacko “Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner” are the stuff of genius. Oh, and did you know “Werewolves…” (which peaked at #11 in Australia and was Zevon’s only charting single) features the rhythm section of John McVie and Mick Fleetwood?.

The tracks “Excitable Boy” and “Werewolves of London” were considered macabrely humorous by critics. The historical “Veracruz” dramatizes the United States occupation of Veracruz, and likewise “Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner” is a fictionalization of a mercenary in Africa. “Lawyers, Guns and Money” is a tongue-in-cheek tale of a young American man’s adventures in Cold War era Latin America. In addition, there are two ballads about life and relationships (“Accidentally Like a Martyr” and “Tenderness on the Block”), as well as a dance tune (“Nighttime in the Switching Yard”).

What album replaced Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours on top of the Album Charts after its 29-week stay?  The answer: Linda Ronstadt’s Simple Dreams.  it was Ronstadt’s eighth studio album, it became one of her most successful and most beloved.  Now, on the occasion of its 40th anniversary, the Grammy Award-winning Simple Dreams is receiving an expanded edition from Rhino Records.  It’s due on CD, vinyl LP, DD, on September 22nd.

The multi-platinum smash was Linda Ronstadt’s fifth consecutive release to cross the one-million sales threshold in the United States, also reaching the chart zenith in Canada and Australia (not to mention the top 20 in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France, and New Zealand).  In addition to displacing Rumours, it also displaced Elvis Presley from the top of the Country Albums chart, a true display of its cross-genre appeal.  Produced by Peter Asher, the album’s formula was simple: apply one of the greatest and most distinctive voices of a generation to some of its greatest songs.

Two of those classic songs – Roy Orbison and Joe Melson’s “Blue Bayou” and Buddy Holly and Norman Petty’s “It’s So Easy” both took a place within the U.S. top five, making Ronstadt the first artist since The Beatles to hold two spots within the top five at the same time.  A third hit, Warren Zevon’s “Poor, Poor Pitiful Me,” also emerged from the LP, barely missing the top 30 at No. 31.  Zevon’s “Carmelita” was also featured on the album alongside songs by The Rolling Stones (“Tumbling Dice”), J.D. Souther (“Simple Man, Simple Dream”) and Eric Kaz (“Sorrow Lives Here”).

Ronstadt was joined on the album by an all-star cast of musicians and guest background vocalists including Eagles Don Henley and Bernie Leadon, Andrew Gold, Sneaky Pete Kleinow, Chris Ethridge, J.D. Souther, Spooner Oldham, Nino Tempo, David Lindley, Danny Kortchmar, and Waddy Wachtel.

The newly remastered Simple Dreams will include three bonus tracks, all derived from a concert which aired on HBO in 1980.  These live versions of the album’s three big hits  “It’s So Easy,” “Blue Bayou,” and “Poor, Poor Pitiful Me” are all previously unreleased in standalone audio format.  On the vinyl version, these three bonus tracks will be included on a special 7-inch EP.  You can pre-order the expanded 40th anniversary edition of Simple Dreams at the links below; it’s due on September 22 from Rhino Records.

Linda Ronstadt, Simple Dreams (Asylum Records).