Welcome to PuR’s Love Crypt, spotlighting the underrated, secretly classic albums & songs that didn’t always get the attention they deserved upon release but are worthy of adoration & a listen. Basically, if Love Crypt were a Beatle it would be George Harrison. Now join us under the radar to meet some beautiful dark horses…
Jackson Browne: Hold Out (1980)
The initial reviews for Jackson Browne’s 1980 album Hold Out were not particularly favorable. Upon release Rolling Stone magazine stated “What we have is a song cycle with scarcely a single tune that has the moral imagination, pop grace or writerly precision of Browne’s best material”. Doesn’t exactly make you wanna run out to the record store right ? …but people did, in fact it ended up being Browne’s first # 1 album. Truth be told, it was riding on the reputation of it’s predecessor from 3 years before, a critically acclaimed, multi-platinum behemoth called Running On Empty, Browne’s absolutely beloved suite of songs about life on the road. That album got as high as # 3 on the charts and it’s success and quality inevitably ratcheted up the expectations for whatever was to come next. And so when Hold Out arrived 3 years later, the world at large was primed. But as Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk was critically savaged for not being like planet earth’s favorite album Rumours, so too was Hold Out for being not only a mere shadow of Running On Empty in terms of song quality, but for Browne’s not sounding like the favored acoustic troubadour of years past.
But forget all that. Seriously. For while, Hold Out is as slick and shiny as a brand new Corvette cruising down the Pacific Coast Highway on a summer day in 1980, it’s also a ridiculously good, earnest and heartfelt bunch of pop songs. It has a lot of things working in it’s favor. It’s an easily digestible 7 tracks long. It consistently employs the most wonderful of all pop music tropes with it’s sweet, upbeat tunes marrying themselves to sad and wistful lyrics. It’s over-arching theme is loss. Lost and unrequited love in”That Girl Could Sing”and “Call It A Loan”, a lost friend in “Of Missing Persons” and a population of lost souls in the supremely radio-friendly “Boulevard” and “Disco Apocalypse”. It’s closing track, “Hold On Hold Out”, an 8 minute unabashedly romantic epic with an exceptionally clumsy spoken word break is Browne doing his best Springsteen and it’s a pretty endearing thing to behold.
Yes, Hold Out is not Running On Empty or the soul baring equal of any of Browne’s uniformly fine albums of the early ’70s…but it is kind of wonderful.
Hear it here:
Tashan: “For The Sake Of Love” (1993)
Tashan’s “For The Sake of Love” had little in common with what was happening in R & B at the time of it’s release in 1993. While the soul charts at that point were dominated by latter era New Jack Swing grooves, slick ‘n sweet boy band-girl group pop and glossy, over the top balladry, “For The Sake of Love” was looking the other way, namely backward. The song was a brazen throwback to the string-laden, lovelorn “Philly Soul” that the legendary team of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff wrote and produced for eternal lover man Teddy Pendergrass in the late ’70s. It didn’t sound modern…and, maybe unsurprisingly, sank without a trace. To make matters worse, despite it’s being released through Sony, as of this writing you won’t find the song or Tashan’s album of the same name on Spotify or I-Tunes ( though the cd can be had through Discogs pretty cheaply). It’s a damn shame because it is an extraordinarily lush and beautiful song (with an especially wondrous hook on the chorus) and deserves to be heard. I know that’s a whole lotta breathless hyperbole to take in but “For The Sake of Love” is pretty special.