Jackson Browne – Hold Out

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More Singer-Songwriter Albums


  • Jackson Browne’s sixth album finally returns to the site with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • Big, rich, energetic, with tons of Analog Tubey Magic, this early pressing has exactly the right sound for this music
  • “An exploration of the pull of work. stardom and bittersweet expectations.” – Rolling Stone


  • On side two, the first one-eighth inch of Track 1, Of Missing Persons, is moderately ticky.

Sometimes the copy with the best sound is not the copy with the quietest vinyl. The best sounding copy is always going to win the shootout, the condition of its vinyl notwithstanding. If you can tolerate the problems on this pressing you are in for some amazing Jackson Browne music and sound. If for any reason you are not happy with the sound or condition of the album we are of course happy to take it back for a full refund, including the domestic return postage.

We had a huge stack of copies but most of them left us entirely cold. A mediocre copy of The Pretender is still a decent sounding record, but the average pressing of this one is just not going to get the job done. We suffered through some of the blandest records to hit the table in ages in the shootout, but I’m pleased to report that a small group of copies actually managed to impress.

So many copies we played were just thick and veiled, keeping Jackson’s vocals in the speakers stuck in a cloudy haze. Most of our copies lacked texture entirely, which really sucked the life out of the music. It’s a good thing this album sold so well in its day, because it took a TON of copies to find a few that actually sounded like the Jackson Browne we know and love from The Pretender, Late For The Sky and the wonderful first album.

What Amazing Sides Such as These Have to Offer Is Not Hard to Hear

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes even as late as 1980
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

This vintage Asylum pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What We’re Listening For on Hold On

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.


Side One

Disco Apocalypse
Hold Out
That Girl Could Sing

Side Two

Of Missing Persons
Call It A Loan
Hold On Hold Out

Rolling Stone Review

Everything that’s right and everything that’s wrong about Hold Out, Jackson Browne’s first studio album since The Pretender (1976), can be found in its climax: the spoken confession at the end of the last cut, “Hold On Hold Out.” Eight minutes long, “Hold On Hold Out” is the LP’s anthem, its farewell address and would-be summation. With Technicolor clarity, the drive of the drums, the zing of the string synthesizer and the shoulders-thrust-back momentum of the piano jump out at you — big and bright and basic. So the drama is real when the instruments drop back and Browne stops singing and starts speaking.

It’s a measure of both the grandiosity and simplicity of Browne’s intentions that this album comes down to his saying — without the aid of melody or harmony — “I love you.”… The singer is speaking directly to the woman he’s been falling in love with throughout the LP. You can sense that he’s awkwardly trying to breach the gulf between them. And when he hitches up his pants and says. “See — I always figured I was going to meet somebody here,” you know that Los Angeles’ coolest, smartest urban cowboy is just as vulnerable and ridiculous as you and I. Browne, a romantic to the end, makes such long-shot faith seem not only possible but necessary…

On paper, the LP makes sense, and you can almost imagine Browne’s preproduction notes. A circle game, taking up where The Pretender left off but reversing the order. From antiro mantic break up to romantic renewal. Semiautobiographical About loss and fear, ties that bind and ties that bond. An exploration of the pull of work. stardom and bittersweet expectations. Images that recur from composition to composition, but songs that stand on their own. A core of players for every number. A consistent sound. An urban feel that accurately reflects the sidewalk hustle and freeway rush of Hollywood. Hints of neon and a touch of chrome…

By Kit Rachlis

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