By the mid-1970s, Jackson Brownes reputation as songwriter and performer had been cemented by the startling craftsmanship displayed on his first three albums. By early 1976, work on his fourth record had begun. However tragedy struck in March of that year when his wife Phyllis took her own life. The Pretender was finally released in November of that year - a collection of songs which many believe displayed the composers sense of loss despite Browne commenting that the majority of the tracks had been completed before the awful events eight months before.
Four days prior to the records release, Browne highlighted two of the albums most haunting cuts the title song and opening track The Fuse - at an electrifying concert in Chicago, Illinois. The show was broadcast on the PBS network as part of the Soundstage series.
Fans who had feared that Jacksons personal tragedy may have affected his performance were quickly reassured, as this belated CD release now reveals. Across the 10 tracks he played that cold winter night, more than 35 years ago, the show was, for many, among the finest and most intense he had ever played. In addition to the two new numbers, four songs from 1974s majestic Late For The Sky were in the set, along with Rock Me On The Water from his 1972 debut, and I Thought I Was A Child from his sophomore record For Everyman.
Almost a year after this broadcast, in September 1977, Jackson Browne was back on TV across the U.S., when he was invited to perform as musical guest on a legendary episode of NBCs Saturday Night Live, presented by a then upcoming Steve Martin. The two tracks Browne performed on that show are also here as bonus cuts, and include a delightful version of what was then a brand new song, Running On Empty, title track from Brownes fifth album, and still almost three months from release, and closed the show with a much different version of The Pretender to that with which he had concluded proceedings in Chicago, 10 months before.
In completion this set provides a welcome addition to every Jackson Browne collection, finding the master of melodic introspection at the absolute top of his game at a time when so many of his early contemporaries had slipped into self parody.