Our Top 10 Jackson Browne albums list looks back at the sensational career of the legendary Jackson Brown while attempting to choose our favourite 10 Jackson Browne albums. Its somewhat intimidating to write about an artist with the stature of a Jackson Browne. He is one of the greatest musicals artist in classic rock history. So as we tend to do in most of our articles, we write these lists as fans, because in the end that’s what we really are. We are not judging, we are simply saying “hey these our our favourites, and here’s the reasons why………… ”
# 10 – Downhill from Everywhere
We open up our top 10 Jackson Browne Albums list with the legendary artist’s most recent album entitled Downhill from Everywhere. The album was released in July of 2021. The album’s opening track “Still Looking for Something” sounds like it could have been released on any of his fabulous 70s albums. His voice a little deeper; his spirit sounds just as strong. It’s nice to be able to listen to Jackson Browne still compose and sings songs like this fifty years after he first arrived on the music scene in the early 70s. The majority of the songs were written by other writers besides Jackson Browne. One of the albums standout tracks entitled “My Cleveland Heart,” recalls his early 80s period. Overall, this was a welcome return by Jackson Browne and a very strong album for man now in his 70s.
# 9 –Looking East
Continuing with our top 10 Jackson Browne Albums list we take a look at the great Jackson Browne album entitled Looking East. The album was the artist’s final record of the 1990s. On the record, Jackson Browne returned to societal issues and politics after his emotional album I’m Alive which was released three years earlier. While some prefer the heartbroken and romantic voice of Jackson Browne, some did miss his fortitude that he explored on his late 80s records. Looking East was also a star studded affair with noted musicians such as Bonnie Raitt, David Crosby and Ry Cooder making appearances on the album. All in all a very strong effort.
# 8 – Lives in the Balance
And speaking of fortitude and politics. Jackson Browne’s Lives In The Balance would see Jackson Browne the artist making a considerable left turn in his music towards politics. We knew it was there as he was very much involved in the No Nukes Movement of the late 1970s. Nonetheless the age of Reagan woke up many artists to shout out from their microphones and echo the 60s spirit of protest. From Springsteen to Bono, from Bonnie Raitt to Jackson Browne, a generation of artists now in their 30s had risen to fight for what they believed in. You can hear it very clearly on the fabulous album Lives In The Balance.
# 7 – I’m Alive
The album cover may argue that he was still alive, but baby can you see how the pain in his face still resonated so deeply. How could you blame him? If you were dumped by someone as beautiful as Daryl Hannah you would be feeling pretty miserable too, probably for a very long time. Of course, it’s really none of our business what happened between the two of them, but then again Jackson Browne makes it all of our business because that’s what the entire album focuses on. At times it can be tough to listen too because you can feel his pain, but some people find solace in that. Yet, the album is a magnificent collection of songs about love and heartbreak that are as genuine as you can get.
# 5 – Hold Out
At the halfway point on our top 10 Jackson Browne Albums list is the grand album Hold Out. This has always been one of our favourite Jackson Browne albums. One can very easily hear the influence of Bruce Springsteen on the album in the piano arrangements and spoken word interlude on the album’s closing number “Hold On Hold Out.” Overall, Hold Out was a very commercial sounding album which resulted in it becoming the only number one album of his career. Yet, commercial sounding isn’t a bad thing although some writers would like to argue the opposite. Hold Out was loaded with great songs like “That Girl Could Sing,” “Boulevard” Of “Missing Persons,” and the title track.
# 5 – Jackson Browne
The next set of Jackson Browne albums are considered the classic Jackson Browne albums. So why not start with this legendary artist’s first album release entitled simply Jackson Browne. Also often referred to as Saturate Before Using because of the cover, Jackson Browne’s first album was released in 1972. The album contained two of his biggest hits in the songs “Doctor My Eyes,” and “Rock Me On The Water.” Up to this point in his career Jackson Browne was mostly known as a songwriter . His debut album gave birth to his own voice in the music business. It was a voice that many fans would prefer over the singers who had previously sang his songs.
# 4 – Running On Empty
One cannot stress the point enough how big Jackson Browne’s Pretender album was in the 1970s. It seemed like a pretty tough challenge to follow that album up. Well, Jackson Browne did a heck of a job stepping up to the challenge when he released the great Running On Empty album. Jackson Browne was on the creative roll of his career in 1977 and Running On Empty was one of it’s peaks. From the roaring title track to the album’s closing combination platter of “The Load Out,” and “Stay,”Jackson Browne had delivered another masterpiece in 1977 with the grand album Running On Empty. This was truly an album recorded on the road and its carefree attitude was its greatest attribute.
# 3 – For Everyman
Landing in the number three spot on our top 10 Jackson Browne Albums list we present the album For Everyman. The legendary For Everyman album was released in 1973. It’s on this album Jackson Browne comes even more into his own establishing himself as one of the most important singer songwriters of the 70s. Songs like “Take It Easy,” “These Days” “Redneck Friend,” and just about every other song on the album prove that point easily. There are many guest appearances on the record by some of the biggest names in rock and roll including Elton John, Joni Mitchell, Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Bonnie Raitt, David Crosby and others.
# TIE 1 & 2 – Late for the Sky
The number one and two spots are pretty interchangeable between the last two albums on our list. The Jackson Browne album Late For The Sky is a big favorite among Jackson Browne fans and for good reason, it’s simply a stunning album. Listen to the beauty and heartache in the song “For A Dancer.” It’s how deep Jackson Browne digs into the complexity of relationships and how they get in the way of dreams. Any artist or for that point anyone with goals goes through these issues. Jackson Browne is writing from experience on this album. With each record he became more experienced, more wiser, even at a young age his writing was now beyond his years, yet he still has that young heart that is super sensitive to everything he had touched and seen,. It’s why the music is so genuine, so heartfelt. David Lindley’s playing makes it all even more emotional. This album and The Pretender go hand in hand on every level.
# 1 Tie 1 & 2 – The Pretender
What Jackson Browne began on Late For The Sky he completes on The Pretender album. It’s hard to even know where to start with this phenomenal album. The sames style songwriting in both melodies and lyrics that we heard on Late For The Sky continues on The Pretender. The difference is in the arrangements. The productions is bigger sounding because these songs really call for it. The album’s hit single “Here Comes Those Tears Again,” is a grand commercial hit, yet it full of substance and tender feeling. That’s a hard combination to make work. On The Pretender, Jackson Browne finds the ability to take all those early 197os soft rock songs and add so much more to them without sacrificing credibility. In the end, it comes down to the songs themselves, and the eight songs on the Pretender album are all gems in their most simplest form, yet their core lyrics and melodies carry a heavy emotional punch that just knocks out the listener with an album of five star production, playing and arrangements.
Top 10 Jackson Browne Albums article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021
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