Jackson Browne—Running on Empty (Warner Brothers) [DVD-Audio]

This DVD-Audio has been a long time coming. Many a planned release date came and went before this one finally hit the shelves back in November, but I assure you that it was worth the wait. The high-resolution, multichannel audio soundtrack allows an already great album to realize its full potential.

Running on Empty was a bold experiment: This album that chronicles life on the road was recorded on the road—on stage, in hotel rooms, and even on the tour bus—during Browne's 1977 concert tour. The lyrics paint an immensely intimate portrait of the lifestyle, for better and for worse, and the musicianship is outstanding, especially considering the circumstances under which the songs were recorded.

The wonderful fidelity of the high-resolution audio, mixed from the original multitracks, gives a rich immediacy to the music and vocals, while the multichannel soundtrack shifts deftly between a concert perspective and a more enveloping style that puts you in the middle of the action, as if you were on the journey and in the room as those incredible jam sessions took place.

Further enhancing that sense of intimacy are the many photos included on the disc, taken by Joel Bernstein to chronicle the tour. These behind-the-scenes photos are the perfect video companion to an album that is essentially an audio diary. The two-disc package also contains a stereo-only CD, but, now that Running on Empty has come alive for me in surround sound, I don't think two-channel will ever suffice.

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