Customer Reviews: Running on Empty
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on December 2, 2005
This is a DVD AUDIO release so don't make the mistake of expecting to see video footage like an earlier reviewer did. DVD Audio is all about the sound - much higher resolution than CD plus a choice between stereo or 5.1 surround. If you've got a DVD-Audio player and you're a Jackson Browne fan, consider this purchase essential. The 5.1 surround mix is like hearing the album for the first time. Consider the still images a bonus but buy it for the music.
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on June 3, 2004
When this album came out in 1977 I was a roadie on tour with another artist. We heard this record when we came home on a short break a few weeks after it was released and I couldn't believe album that commemorated life on the road. Although "Running on Empty" has been played to death it still holds up as a great rock anthem. The best song on the CD is definitely "Rosie" which captures the true essence of the roadie life (losing the girl to the drummer). The sleeper track is "The Road" a melancholy reflection on the horrible loneliness that is prevalent on the road. Finally the song "Cocaine" hits WAY to close to home for those of us that were seduced by its charms back then. Running on Empty is a must have CD for anyone that experienced the concert scene in the 70's (or wishes they could have). I give this CD 5 stars (attached with gaffer's tape)
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on January 29, 2003
Until Running on Empty, Jackson headlined in mid level arenas. For the Running on Empty Tour, with a tremendous assist from his opening act Karla Bonoff, Browne moved into the big sports arenas playing to 20000 a night. Running on Empty was his highlight from a financial standpoint.
An interesting concept at the time and some of the songs, like Running on Empty and the Load Out/Stay became big hits. Load Out/Stay is the mandatory end to a Jackson Browne concert, as it was when Bruce Springsteen and the E street band performed the song along with Jackson at the No Nukes concert in 1980.
You Love the Thunder, with Rosemary Butler as a tremendous backup voice, is a good song and Rosie, despite its unique subject matter, is a decent song that gets a lot of airtime still.
I could probably do without the song about big 18 wheelers but it fit the concept.
The album is only not great when compared to other Jackson Brown albums. Late for The Sky, Pretender and For Everyman are masterpieces and Running on Empty is a notch below that. I think the hard core Jackson Browne fan was glad when the Running on Empty frenzy died down and you could see Jackson in a concert hall, where he belongs.
Don McNay...
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on November 17, 2005
The reviewer who writes: "the music is great, but the DVD is nothing more than a collection of pictures..." fails to understand the concept of a DVD-Audio disc. Along with that "collection of pictures", there is a high resolution 192kHz 24-bit stereo track and a brand new 96kHz surround mix. Each of those alone is worth the price of admission.
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on March 23, 2006
I spent several hours comparing the sound of my original LP phonograph record of Running on Empty with the CD and two-channel DVD Audio disks included in this package. I wasn't able to sample the multichannel DVD Audio.

The music and tempo are identical on LP, CD, and DVD-A, but the sound is quite different. The LP and the CD sound very similar, and are apparently from the same original mixes for these tracks. However, the 192kHz 24-bit two-channel DVD Audio tracks are apparently a completely new mix, probably made just for this release. The differences are very interesting: the CD/LP mix at first sounds much clearer and brighter than the DVD-Audio, just the opposite of what I would expect. Also, in some portions the CD/LP contain reverb of Browne's voice missing on the DVD-Audio. By direct comparison, many DVD-A vocals at first sound muffled compared to the CD/LP mix.

However, a closer audition reveals that DVD-A often has more content than CD/LP. For example, a backup vocal barely audible on CD/LP is clear and distinct on DVD-A. And left-right channel separation is usually better on the DVD-A. (By the way, many DVD-A tracks also have much more leadin material).

I can only conclude that the originals were recorded with multitrack equipment and the DVD-A is taken from microphones that the original album obscures with material from other tracks. It sounds to me like the CD/LP uses microphones that recorded sound coming from stage speakers, and the DVD-A favors the musicians' microphones instead. Also the equalization is probably boosted on the CD/LP to compensate for typical record players of the 1970's, making the sound artificially brighter, but obliterating much detail.

The CD/LP sound is as you may remember it from the radio, the DVD-A sound is quite different. Browne himself runs a sound studio, and probably had a hand in mixing the DVD-A. In a recent Stereophile magazine he says the surround DVD-A is remarkable. Possibly the two-channel DVD-A is derived from this mix.

So, the two channel DVD-A mix should be regarded is a separate work from the LP/CD. Therefore, if you're hoping DVD-A is an enhanced version of the original LP/CD mix, you'll be disappointed (as I initially was). However, the DVD-A, though not as bright sounding, is possibly even better than the LP/CD. I'm still deciding.
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on November 18, 2005
Running on Empty rocked the music world almost 30 years ago, both literally and figuratively: a live album of all new material, recorded on stage, backstage, on a bus and in hotel rooms! Now, with enhanced 5.1 sound (it sounds great!), two previously unreleased songs, and hundreds of moving, candid photographs by Joel Bernstein, this classic record has been masterfully revitalized. R&R Hall of Famer, Jackson Browne, never sounded better, surrounded by some of rock's best musicians from that classic era. To me, Russ Kunkel's drums always sounded "bigger" than anyone else's at the time, and David Lindley's virtuosity on anything with strings was never more evident. This release is a gift to Jackson Browne's abiding fans, and to those who will be!
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on September 3, 2000
For a recording artist, there is probably no trial of fire like taking the new music out on the road, and hearing fans' reactions to it. As a litmus test, a tour can make or break an artist, particularly one just starting out. Of course, when Browne released this album, he was already a grizzled veteran of playing stadiums; still, he felt compelled to lay down a permanent record of what road life was like. "Running on Empty" is a live recording, but unlike one ever made before. Some of the tracks were recorded backstage, away from the glare of the audience, some on tour buses...some even in hotels. It is as stark a view as one is able to get of the bumps in the road for a travelling band. The title track was a brand new song when it was played before an audience; it is still a radio classic. "The Road" is a song that specifically addresses the artist's concern about how his material will be treated by the fans, while maintaining one's sanity amidst the grueling touring schedule. The album is peppered with references to other realities familiar to the recording artist: groupies and drugs. "Cocaine" is an acoustic blues number featuring Glenn Frey of the Eagles. "Rosie" is a great double-entendre song about a groupie showing up backstage; Browne tries to pick her up, but the drummer sweeps "that girl away", leaving Browne to, ahem, take matters into his own hands, shall we say. "Love Needs a Heart" is a great ballad that demonstrates the singer-songwriter's virtuosity. "Nothing But Time" was recorded by Browne and Company on their tour bus after leaving a show in Portland, Maine, and shows Jackson in very lighthearted mood. "You Love the Thunder" is the outstanding rocker on the album, but the mood is mainly subtle throughout. Browne's images are extremely evocative, and he is at the peak of his career here. The album ends with the excellent FM classic, "The Load-Out/Stay", which the author reveals to a live audience he is just performing it for the first time. The live tracks played in front of crowds feature very little of the crowd response, almost like studio music accepted in first takes. "Load-Out" may be the only exception to the rule. Browne incorporates the Zodiacs' '50's song "Stay", featuring guitarist David Lindley's brilliant falsetto. This album is an essential for any rock enthuiast; each moment is thoroughly enjoyable. Do yourself a big favor, and definitely pick this one up.
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on October 22, 2002
There are some albums in your collection that have an amazing ability to create a mood or energy....they are timeless and when you go back to them you are always rewarded with a sound that can sweep you away !! Running on Empty is one of those albums. I like this one more for the songs that no one ever heard on the radio....songs like "The Road" which features some of the best acoustic guitar ever recorded, is an amazing snapshot of life on the road as a musician. Jackson is able to create vivid pictures of what its like....his images of the positives of being a big time rock star are juxtaposed well with the mind numbing time spent in between shows....and best of all the song is memorable and you can sing along with him as he goes thru it all !! Another classic is "Rosie" a song created from a sound technicians/roadie's can't help feel the feelings of rejection this poor guy goes thru....he get's this girl great seats to a concert only to lose her to the drummer....but again the sadness is tempered with a little humor...."Rosie you're all wear MY ring"...great stuff !!
"Cocaine" is a classic blues riff that captures a time in the American culture when the white stuff ruined many a musician...this is not the glorified "Cocaine" of Clapton...but a somber blues perspective of the highs and true lows of this little white powder.
And last but certainly not least...."The Load Out" which blends nicely into a memorialized version of "Stay" again offers vivid imagery of life on the road. Here the piano is the focal instrument and the "live" element here offers something magical you can't capture in the "retake" environment of a studio.....this is the best this song has ever sounded and they miraculously and fortuitiously caught it on tape.....the chord progressions bang into your soul and give you chills !!
This album can be picked up for very little cash...pick it up....put on some candles and listen to it with someone is pure music magic !! Thank you Jackson Browne !!
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on August 27, 2006
I'm not a Jackson Browne fan, in fact I don't own any of his other recordings. The songs are of course familiar from years of FM airplay. What makes this disk so enjoyable is the outstanding sound quality of DVD-A. The performances were excellent, much of which may not have been quite so apparent until now. I own ten DVD-A's and this disk is among the best of them in sound quality.

If you like classic rock in general and Jackson Browne in particular, go ahead and buy this disk for your DVD-A player. You will not be disappointed.
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VINE VOICEon December 6, 2005
The Good

"Running on Empty" is the most familiar song on the album, and it sounds so much better with its heightened clarity and 5.1 mix. Jackson expressed how his journeys are wearing down on him. "The Road" takes you deeper into depression and despair with acoustic guitars and emotional lyrics. The piano heavy track "Rosie" delves into the trials and tribulations of the `groupie' culture. It's no surprise that drugs were a big part of the music industry at the time (did I just say were?). Browne approaches the subject with a little bit of humor and a little bit of sadness on "Cocaine."

"Love Needs a Heart" is a touching power ballad where Browne puts his heart out on his sleeve. "Nothing But Time" has a funky rhythm and bluesy vocals that convey all that can happen when you have nothing to do until the next show. "Stay" wraps the whole saga up with a ray of light at the end of the tunnel. Whereas most of the album focused on the negative aspects of the road, this one focuses on the great things and people you deal with along the way. The bonus tracks are included only on the DVD mix of the album. "Cocaine Again" is okay, but not really interesting, and "Edwardsville Room 124" is a mellow instrumental.

The Bad

The rest of the DVD material (montages, photos, lyrics) are cool to have, but you'll probably only view them once.

The Verdict

I never really listened to what Running On Empty was all about until now. Apparently I missed a lot just listening to it casually. The album is a well-written, informative, intelligent, and sometimes sad account of life on the road. It's an album that can hold it's own no matter what decade your talking about. I can honestly say that Running On Empty is a timeless piece of artistry that should not be missed. The 5.1 mix is excellent.
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