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on November 19, 2000
..... may not be the one you're expecting. While Browne has included "Doctor My Eyes", "The Pretender", and "Running On Empty" in this 15 - track retrospective, many of the songs we might have expected are conspicuous by their absence. Note: The album's title is "Best Of," not "Greatest Hits."
The artist has stated that this collection was put together in a way such that it would provide the listener an account, or a "record" of his state of mind during different stages of his long career. Browne has never been one to hide his emotions, and, by listening to this set chronologically, the listener is able to get a great feel for his growth as a songwriter, because of the songs that ARE included here, not in spite of the ones that aren't. A novel concept, in my opinion.
Personally speaking, I bought the disc for three reasons: First, it includes "Somebody's Baby", a track that had never been released on a Jackson Browne album. (Maybe on the soundtrack to "Fast Times At Ridgemont High," if there is such a thing). Second, "The Rebel Jesus" is a wonderful song featuring long - time Browne collaborator and friend David Lindley. I had heard a version of "Rebel" on a Chieftains Christmas album, with Jackson providing the vocals, and this reading, while quite different, is just as moving. Third, for the "bonus" track, the title cut. It's pretty much basic Browne fare, but hey, it's new Browne, and how often does that happen? Also, a "basic" Jackson Browne song is usually much better than a "great" song by anyone else in this genre.
I own everything Browne has ever recorded, so the only surprise here was the inclusion of so many of the "lesser - known" songs, and how they seemed to fit into the pattern of the recording. "These Days" and "Call It A Loan" are prime examples - both are superb songs that probably didn't receive the attention they deserved when originally released. Interestingly enough, only one "political" song is present here, the haunting "Lives In The Balance." Browne was beaten up pretty badly by the so - called experts during the "Lawyers In Love" / "Lives In The Balance" / "World In Motion" trilogy, and I was glad to see he included "Lives" here. Jackson Browne has always been outspoken politically, and to eschew that portion of his career when the bulk of his music was politically motivated would have provided an incomplete story.
"The Next Voice You Hear" gives those who have only heard "Doctor My Eyes" and "Running On Empty" a chance to hear what they have been missing. For those of us who are long - time fans, it's an opportunity to revisit bits and pieces of the Browne catalog and realize again why his music has meant so much to us for such a long time.
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on June 14, 1998
This album takes fans on a journey through the years of Jackson Browne's evolution. Both in terms of music and life. It was great to hear his first hit, "Doctor My Eyes" sound better than I have heard it before with a cleaned up track. It was almost like hearing for the first time. A surprise to me was to find "Call It A Loan" on a greatest hits list. I read where Jackson considers this record a real "record" of HIS greatest hits and not the fans. A refreshing approach. A plus is also "Somebody's Baby", which to my knowledge, has not been included on any other CD. The two "new" tracks are something special. "The Rebel Jesus", featuring long time friend David Lindley on viola, has a hauntingly Irish feel with Jackson wearing his feelings right on his lyrical sleeve. "The Next Voice You Hear", a funky feeling chart featuring trumpter Jon Hassell soloing, has deeper meanings that we all can relate to and interpret to fit our own lives. A trademark of the deep and meaning lyrics Jackson Browne is known for. Both tracks are absolutely superb recordings and come through crystal clear.This album is a must for any long time Jackson fan or someone that wants to find what they have been missing for the last twenty five years.
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HALL OF FAMEon January 8, 2002
Jackson Browne is one of those artists for whom it would be difficult of compile a single disc collection of his best material. He's had only a handful of obvious hits over the years and many of his best songs are lengthy album tracks. At a mere 15 tracks, two of them brand new for this collection, "Next Voice You Hear" is far too slight to be a good representation.
On the plus side, the CD includes "Somebody's Baby," a soundtrack song perviously unavailble on any Jackson Browne album. It also has all of his other best known songs, including his first hit, "Doctor My Eyes," "Running on Empty," and the 1983 MTV staple "Tender is the Night." On the downside, all of his albums, particularly his mid-70's masterpieces "For Everyman" and "Late For the Sky" are represented by only one or two songs. Browne classics like "Before the Deluge," "For Everyman," "Take it Easy," and the masterful live "Stay" are nowhere to be seen. Additionally, the later songs are not as strong as his 70s output, reflecting the decline is his career.
Overall, there is nothing wrong with the music that IS included here. There just isn't nearly enough of it.
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on April 9, 2000
No one seems to have mentioned this so far, but I think it's worth noting that the early selections on this disc were all superbly remixed for inclusion here, resulting in clearer, more polished, and more dynamic sound than is found on the original albums (most appreciably with the formerly muddy "Running On Empty"). The remixing is for some reason not mentioned in the CD booklet, so there's probably one deservedly steamed mix engineer out there somewhere.
The new mixes, the two new songs, the inclusion of the stray "Somebody's Baby," and the absence of certain other songs ("Take it Easy," "Before the Deluge," "Boulevard") do point to this being an album made for Browne devotees rather than casual fans. It is, after all, posited as a "best of" rather than a "greatest hits," and it very well may simply consist of material that Browne feels is his best--though if that's the case, I think it all the stranger that *The Next Voice You Hear* features nothing from Browne's brilliant and grossly underrated *World in Motion* (1989); "Lights and Virtues" is probably the best song he's ever written.
At any rate, this terrific Browne primer makes fine listening from start to finish, despite its unimaginative chronological sequencing. The booklet includes printed lyrics, something you don't find in many compilations. May Browne's insightful, wholehearted songwriting continue to inspire old fans and garner fresh interest.
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There are enough good Jackson Browne tracks to EASILY fill a single (or double) CD best of. So why is this compilation so lame? First off, it takes the questionable approach of including no more than one track per album. That means the classic era albums (through The Pretender) get shortchanged, while later efforts are overemphasized. The one track chosen for each album is also suspect in several cases. On the upside, the mostly unheard and/or previously unreleased material that comes at the end of this CD is suprisingly strong. In fact, much stronger than some of the hits from the post-Pretender era. This is material that deserves to more widely heard. But this compilation serves neither that material, nor Browne's true best-of properly.
dap
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HALL OF FAMEon August 24, 2000
What do you say about an album that reprises an artist's career with as much verve and excitement as is in this compilation of hits that stretches out over nearly thirty years of public acclaim? My best word is "Wow"! There are many fine songs here, beginning with the early success of "Doctor My Eyes", whose success baffled and surprised Browne, and set his career on a slow burning and long to extinguish flame still blazing with millions of fans world-wide. Perennial favorites like "Late For The Sky", "Fountain Of Sorrow", and "The Pretender" are included, as are the previously unavailable "Somebody's Baby", along with "Running On Empty", "Tender Is The Night", and "Lives In The Balance". Curiously, a number of very strong Jackson compositions are not included, such as the Eagles mega-hit "Take It Easy" that Jackson co-wrote with Glenn Frey, along with other notable absentees like "On The Boulevard", "Load Out", and "Hold On, Hold Out". I'm sure you can think of several others that escape my notice at the moment.
Of course, allowing for such notable omissions suggests to me that perhaps the marketeers at Elektra have their eyes out for a second greatest hits album that might give us "That Girl Could Sing", "For Everyman", and my own personal favorite, "Our Lady Of The Well". Otherwise, this should have been a double CD. One can always hope. There are a number of newer songs here, such as the gorgeously written, arranged and sung "In The Shape Of A Heart", "The Barricades OF Heaven", and the absolutely soaring "Sky Blue And Black", which in my opinion is his single best song since "Late For The Sky", proving our amazing Mr. Browne still has the genius he has been sharing so well with us since he first stepped onto the stage and into the comfortable lap of public acclaim in the very early 1979s, a fresh and deeply personally autobiographical artist bridging the folk/popular divide with astonishing ease and virtuosity. This album provides a nice overview of his work, but given his considerable output over the last three decades, I recommend you also listen to each of the original albums to get a true gauge of this guy's range of creative capabilities. Enjoy.
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on August 15, 2000
This album contains many of Jackson Browne's best songs, some of which didn't make it up the charts, some of which did. It is a well crafted one-disk retrospective that appears never to have been meant to be a "Nuth'n but the HITS" album. If you give it a chance and simply let it play you will find yourself wanting to add other Jackson Browne recordings you may not have in your collection. After hearing "Skies of Blue and Black" I went out and bought "I'm Alive." There are lovely tunes and some fine lyrics here. Unlike many "hits" albums (which usually employ all the subtlety of a butcher shop showcasing anything that made the "Top 40"), this CD manages to retain a measure of continuity and personality. It is well worth owning for the music, the mix, the track selection and the sweet way it spans the years of creative output. This "best of" could have easily been a three disk set with a mix of old stuff, remixes and live work (like Paul Simon's wonderful 3-disk set) instead of a single disk. And perhaps one day we will get that type of production, but for now, this is what we have, and it is well worth having.
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on December 22, 2001
This cd was my first real exposure to Jackson Browne. Sure I had heard some of his songs on the radio and liked them but could never find out who sang them. I bought this on the recomendation of someone in the store where I was shopping and I am so glad I took their advice. What an amazing talent this man is. I have rarely encountered lyrics so moving and literate. I am hooked I now own four of his records. "The Next Voice You Hear" is a wonderful introduction to a wonderful artist. I find myself reaching for this cd constantly and no matter how many times you hear it the songs never grow old because they are so lyrically intricate. This is one cd that does not merit skipping any of the tracks you don't need to they are all wonderful. My personal favorites on this album are, "The Pretender", "Call It A Loan", "In The Shape Of A Heart", and of course "Sky Blue And Black". This is what real music is. The only bad thing is that it might ruin the rest of your music collection because few other people can compare to Mr. Browne's music. Listen to this and be prepared to add many more of his cd's to your collection. It's that good!
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on May 3, 2005
The story goes that the selections here are the "best" according to Jackson himself..snapshots over the years of what he was thinking between 1972-1997. However, artists are often their own worst critics..re-thinking songs that were classics into piffle ("Don't Stand so Close to Me '86" anyone?) or according status to tunes based on how they felt in their personal lives at the time (Paul McCartney has said that he loves the Beatles' "You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)" because of the great time he and John had in the studio making it. That's fine for him, but for the rest of us, it just sounds like screwing around.)

What that means to casual fans (i.e. ones who only own 1 or 2..or no...Browne albums) is that some of the songs you remember loving from radio will NOT be on here. "Rock me on the Water" is M.I.A. "Here Come those Tears Again" is absent. No pleas to "Stay" a little longer. If you were singing the phrase "mating cries of lawyers in love" in the Eighties, forget it...it ain't here. So if you're hoping for a single disc to gather his hits, you'll have to keep waiting.

Those who are bigger Browne fans will no doubt, question why more of his latter period work (arguably lesser material) is included at the expense of his early-mid 1970s songs. You can argue that "Stay" isn't here because it's a cover and Browne wanted to feature his self-written material but that doesn't explain why you can't find "Rock Me on the Water", "Here Come Those Tears Again", or "You Love the Thunder" here.

In the end, only completists will be pleased with this collection including as it does "Somebody's Baby" (the hit from the movie "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" that's only appeared until now on that abysmal soundtrack) and new songs "The Rebel Jesus" (a Christmas song taking America to task for materialism at Yuletide) and "The Next Voice You Hear".

BOTTOM LINE:
There are some great selections here, but many great ones missing. It's hard to argue that this makes the best case for Browne as a significant artist in a single disc. People arguing that the problem is that it HAS to be 2 CDs aren't being realistic...an artistically and commercially satisfying single disc CD for casual fans COULD have been made, but this isn't it.

I suggest buying "Very Best of" used for about $10. (ASIN B0001GOH98). With that double disc set, you'll get most of the glaring omissions plus some fine album tracks.
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on May 10, 2002
How can this be called the Best of Jackson Browne? It doesn't include many of his great songs. Every time I think about buying this CD I stop. There's way too much missing. My advice to anyone wanting to get some Jackson Browne into their collection is to look elsewhere. Start with one of the stand alone albums. "Saturate Before Using," "The Pretender," and "Running on Empty" are my favorites. I have different advice for the record company: Get your act together and release a true "Best of" for Browne. Sure, it will probably need to be a double-disc set. Also, it would be nice to see some remastered versions of the individual albums. As far as I know, we're still forced to put up with [poor] sounding analog transfers of all the early albums, which are easily his best.
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