One of the reasons that Jackson Browne's first album is among the most auspicious debuts in pop music history is that it doesn't sound like a debut. Although only 23, Browne had kicked around the music business for several years, writing and performing as a member of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and as Nico's backup guitarist, among other gigs, while many artists recorded his material. So, if this doesn't sound like someone's first batch of songs, it's not. Browne had developed an unusual use of language, studiedly casual yet full of striking imagery, and a post-apocalyptic viewpoint to go with it. He sang with a calm certainty over spare, discretely placed backup -- piano, acoustic guitar, bass, drums, congas, violin, harmony vocals -- that highlighted the songs and always seemed about to disappear. In song after song, Browne described the world as a desert in need of moisture, and this wet/dry dichotomy carried over into much of the imagery. In "Doctor My Eyes," the album's most propulsive song and a Top Ten hit, he sang, "Doctor, my eyes/Cannot see the sky/Is this the prize/For having learned how not to cry?" If Browne's outlook was cautious, its expression was original. His conditional optimism seemed to reflect hard experience, and in the early '70s, the aftermath of the '60s, a lot of his listeners shared that perspective. Like any great artist, Browne articulated the tenor of his times. But the album has long since come to seem a timeless collection of reflective ballads touching on still-difficult subjects -- suicide (explicitly), depression and drug use (probably), spiritual uncertainty and desperate hope -- all in calm, reasoned tones, and all with an amazingly eloquent sense of language. Jackson Browne's greater triumph is that, having perfectly expressed its times, it transcended those times as well. (The album features a cover depicting Browne's face on a water bag -- an appropriate reference to its desert/water imagery -- containing the words "saturate before using." Inevitably, many people began to refer to the self-titled album by that phrase, and when it was released on CD, it nearly became official -- both the disc and the spine of the jewel box read Saturate Before Using.)
Performance CreditsJackson Browne Primary Artist,Acoustic Guitar,Piano,Keyboards,Vocals
Clarence White Acoustic Guitar
Albert Lee Guitar,Electric Guitar,Electric Piano
Jesse Ed Davis Guitar,Electric Guitar
Leah Kunkel Vocals,Background Vocals
Jim Gordon Organ
Sneaky Pete Kleinow Pedal Steel Guitar
David Campbell Viola
David Crosby Vocals,Background Vocals,Vocal Harmony
Craig Doerge Piano,Keyboards
Jimmie Fadden Harmonica,Autoharp
David Jackson Piano
Russ Kunkel Drums
Jim Gordon Organ
Leland Sklar Bass
Technical CreditsJackson Browne Producer
Gary Burden Art Direction
Richard Sanford Orshoff Producer,Engineer,Audio Production
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
For a few years other artists had been covering songs written by Jackson Browne but in this album he proves that he can sing his songs as well as write them. This is a great album and the beginning of a great singing career.
Excellent album, enjoyed all tracks, good easy listening tunes, real joy to listen to. Really recommend it.
Monster hit ''Doctor My Eyes'' sadly overshadowed the exquisitely wistful ''From Silverlake''. Dylanesque in its ambiguous though powerfully evocative lyrics, ''From Silverlake'' also mirrors Dylan's trend in having been performed far better by at least one other artist: Hedge and Donna's 1968 (I think) self-titled (I think) album has a truly marvelous version. As my uncertainty indicates, I haven't heard it in many years, and no longer have a copy. How about it, B&N? Can you find me one? As I recall, Hedge & Donna were a husband-wife duo, and the album was titled ''Capers'', ''Hedge & Donna'', or ''Hedge and Donna Capers''.