Top Artists – Jackson Browne

Jackson Browne -Self-Titled

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  • A STUNNING copy of Jackson Browne’s debut with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • Balanced, musical, present and full-bodied throughout – this pressing was a big step up from every other copy we played
  • “… Jackson Browne’s first album is among the most auspicious debuts in pop music history”
  • 5 stars: “… 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.”

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Jackson Browne / Late for the Sky – This Kind of Clarity Wears Out Its Welcome Before Long

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Hot Stamper Albums with Choruses that Are Big and Clear

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It’s not easy to find copies that get the tonal balance right the way the best copies do. Most err in one of two ways — either they’re rich, full and a little veiled, or they’re clear and transparent, but leaned-out and boosted in the upper midrange.

The clear ones of course are the ones that initially fool you – they present an illusion of transparency because everything is easy to hear right from the get-go, but they quickly wear out their welcome with their more “modern,” cleaner, leaner sound.

The choruses are telling here. With so many background singers, the size and weight and energy of the singers only comes through on the copies that are full and rich.

What Else to Listen For

The jug on Walking Slow — you gotta love it!

Choruses Are Key

Three distinctive qualities of vintage analog recordings — richness, sweetness and freedom from artificiality — are most clearly heard on a Big Production Record like this in the loudest, densest, most climactic choruses of the songs.

We set the playback volume so that the loudest parts of the record are as huge and powerful as they can possibly become without crossing the line into distortion or congestion. On some records, Dark Side of the Moon comes instantly to mind, the guitar solos on Money are the loudest thing on the record.

On Breakfast in America the sax toward the end of The Logical Song is bigger and louder than anything on the record, louder even than Roger Hodgson’s near-hysterical multi-tracked screaming “Who I am” about three-quarters of the way through the track. Those, however, are clearly exceptions to the rule. Most of the time it’s the final chorus of a pop song that gets bigger and louder than what has come before.

A pop song is usually designed to build momentum as it works its way through the verses and choruses, past the bridge, coming back around to make one final push, releasing all its energy in the final chorus, the climax of the song. On a good recording — one with real dynamics — that part of the song should be very loud and very powerful.

The climax of the biggest, most dynamic songs are almost always the toughest tests for a pop record, and it’s the main reason we play our records loud. The copies that hold up through the final choruses of their album’s largest scaled productions are the ones that provide the biggest thrills and the most emotionally powerful musical experiences one can have sitting in front of two speakers. Our Top 100 is full of records that reward that kind of intense listening at loud levels.

We live for that sound here at Better Records. It’s precisely what the best vintage analog pressings do brilliantly. In fact they do it so much better than any other medium that there is really no comparison, and certainly no substitute. If you’re on this site you probably already know that. (more…)

Jackson Browne – Hold Out

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  • 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

*CONDITION NOTES:

  • 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. (more…)

Jackson Browne – The Pretender

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  • STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it on both sides, making this a Pretender that rocks like no other!
  • One of the all time great rock / pop Demo Discs — the best copies are so rich and full-bodied they make most rock records sound positively anemic
  • Five Stars in Rolling Stone, one of their Top 500 Albums, and a true classic from 1976
  • Without a doubt the best sounding record Jackson Browne ever made – this is the pressing that backs up everything we say and more

As I’m sure you know by now, especially if you own a copy or two, pressings of The Pretender don’t usually sound like Demo Discs. In fact, most copies of this record are mediocre at best — thin, grainy, and flat sounding.

This copy is none of those things. And it positively kills the famous MoFi pressing. (more…)

Jackson Browne – For Everyman

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More Singer-Songwriter Albums

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  • A KILLER copy of JB’s sophomore effort with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it on both sides
  • David Lindley joins the band, and talented helpers include Bonnie Raitt, Glen Frey, David Crosby, Elton John and Joni Mitchell
  • “His work is a unique fusion of West Coast casualness and East Coast paranoia, easygoing slang and painstaking precision, child’s-eye romanticizing and adult’s-eye acceptance… Brilliantly conceived, incomparably immediate, For Everyman truly earns its title.” – Rolling Stone

The average copy of this record is MUD, but this pressing will show you that the master tape of For Everyman is a whole lot better than most music lovers and audiophiles might suspect. (The first album is the same way.)

Want a quick test for transparency? Listen to the piano on I Thought I Was a Child. On most copies you can’t really hear the attack of the hammers hitting the strings, but here you can. If the tonal balance is correct — and it is on this copy — then you know you are getting a pressing of very high quality.

Note that the first track on side one almost never sounds as good as those that follow. (more…)

Jackson Browne – Running On Empty

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  • A STUNNING Running on Empty, with two Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sides
  • Forget whatever dead-as-a-doornail Heavy Vinyl pressing they’re making these days – the Tubey Magic, size and performance energy of this vintage pressing simply cannot be beat
  • This Grammy nominated release is packed with previously unreleased songs
  • A hard record to find with audiophile quality sound – not many copies have ever hit the site
  • “Audio verité—one of the most conceptually fascinating recordings in the history of rock & roll.” — Bill Shapiro

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Jackson Browne – Late for the Sky

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  • This outstanding pressing of Browne’s third album boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • This one was bigger and bolder, with more Tubey Magical richness on Jackson’s voice, than most of what we played
  • We love the rich, smooth, natural sound that Asylum was known for, and this copy has a healthy dose of each of those qualities
  • It’s getting harder and harder to find these in good condition these days – the man has a lot of fans, and they prefer to hear him on vinyl
  • 5 stars from AMG and Rolling Stone calls it the “quintessential Browne album,” saying the “… open-ended poetry achieves power from the nearly religious intensity that accumulates around the central motifs; its fervor is underscored by the sparest and hardest production to be found on any Browne album yet… as well as by his impassioned, oracular singing style.”

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Letter of the Week – West Side Story and Jackson Browne

One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased recently:

Hey Tom, 

I really liked the Osacr Peterson West Side Story and appreciate the effort you put in to find me a Hot Stamper. This was an album my mother bought for me and I have fond memories of lying on my back under my parents RCA console stereo looking up at the glowing tubes and listening to it. Thank you. Much better than the DCC cd. It now sounds like I remember it.

Mr. Magic was also a surprise. It never sounded that good and was better than I remember it. 

The one that has completely blown me away was the Jackson Browne 3+ side one. It never sounded like that ever. I had a 1.5 and it was good; kind of like I remember it. This copy is a completely different musical experience. I enjoy the presentation more and have a much better appreciation of the music. You guys did it again.

Thanks as usual,
Mike H. (more…)

Jackson Browne – The Pretender – Our Four Plus Shootout Winner

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Amazing A++++ (Four Plus) sound, so good we rated it beyond our usual top grade of Triple Plus. Without a doubt it’s the best sounding Jackson Browne record ever made, and this copy backs up everything we say and more.

Side one was super transparent, with breathy, present vocals. What really blew us away on this one is the sheer size and openness of the soundfield. We were so impressed that we went beyond our usual top grade of A+++, something we rarely do. But when a copy like this comes along and sets a new standard for an album’s sonic potential, there’s nothing else we CAN do!

Side two was every bit as good! Absolutely As Good As It Gets! Big and open, solid and rich, this one is doing absolutely everything we could ask it to. The soundstage is HUGE, and the transparency and separation between parts are stunning. If you’re looking for Demo Disc Jackson Browne sound, this is it.

Demo Disc Sound

This is one of the all time great rock / pop Demo Discs — the sound of the best copies is so rich and full-bodied it makes most other rock records sound positvely anemic. As I’m sure you know by now, especially if you own a copy or two, pressings of The Pretender don’t usually sound like Demo Discs. In fact, most copies of this record are mediocre at best — thin, grainy, and flat sounding.

This copy is none of those things. And it positively MURDERS the famous MoFi pressing. Click on the Aural Excitement tab above to read more on that subject. (more…)

Jackson Browne’s Debut – What to Listen For

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Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF)  as you critically evaluate your copy of Jackson Browne’s first (and best) album. 

The real trick with this album is in striking the right balance between richness and presence. A White Hot Stamper from years back made me change my mind about this recording. I used to think it was dull, but I was wrong. I used to think that even the best copies of this recording sounded rolled off on the top end. I no longer believe that to be true. On the best pressings the top end is correct for this music.

It took the right pressing to show me the error of my ways. (more…)