JACKSON BROWNE : JACKSON BROWNE
Label : Asylum Records
Release Year : 1972
Length : 40:55
Review (AllMusic) : 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.)
Review (Wikipedia) : Jackson Browne is the self-titled debut album of singer Jackson Browne released in 1972. It peaked on the Billboard 200 chart at number 53. Two singles were released with "Doctor My Eyes" peaking at number 8 on the Pop Singles chart and "Rock Me on the Water" reaching number 48. Browne had been having minor success as a songwriter but was still unable to obtain his own recording contract. He sent a demo of "Jamaica Say You Will" to David Geffen in early 1970 and Geffen began looking for a record deal for Browne. Geffen ended up founding his own label, Asylum Records, instead and signing Browne. The album was certified as a Gold record in 1976 and Platinum in 1997 by the RIAA. The album is often mistakenly called Saturate Before Using, because the words appear on the album cover, which was designed to look like a water bag that would require saturation in order to cool its contents by evaporation. For this very reason, Asylum Records executives suggested to no avail that the words be removed from the album cover and nearly rejected the cover art outright. However, the initial pressings not only included the text, but the cover carried a burlap-like feel to further the water bag theme. The confusion over the title returned when the album was converted to CD format, when the words appeared on the spine of the jewel case as the album title. "Jackson Browne" received mostly highly favorable reviews. In his review for Allmusic William Ruhlmann praised the album as "An auspicious debut that doesn't sound like a debut." and "the album has long since come to seem a timeless collection of reflective ballads touching on still-difficult subjects... and all with an amazingly eloquent sense of language. Jackson Browne's greater triumph is that, having perfectly expressed its times, it transcended them as well." Rolling Stone rated the album 6 of 10 stars and stated "Browne's debut lays the groundwork for future heart-and-soul excavations. "Doctor My Eyes," an early hit single, communicates the subdued, subtle power of his half-spoken melodies, while "Rock Me on the Water" and "Song for Adam" foreshadow the free-ranging contemplation to come." The original 1972 review in Rolling Stone stated "Jackson Browne's sensibility is romantic in the best sense of the term: his songs are capable of generating a highly charged, compelling atmosphere throughout, and - just as important - of sustaining that pitch in the listener's mind long after they've ended." Music critic Robert Christgau gave the album a B grade, but was ambivalent about the whole album, writing, "The voice is pleasant, present, and unpretentious, and when I listen assiduously I perceive lyrics crafted with as much intelligence and human decency as any reasonable person could expect. Unfortunately, only critical responsibility induces me to listen assiduously. It's not just the blandness of the music, but of the ideas as well, each reinforcing the other."