Picks and Pans Review: Lives in the Balance

updated 04/07/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 04/07/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

Jackson Browne

Watch out for that first step; it's a doozy. Plunk the needle down on Browne's latest record, and instead of his customary bittersweet musings on the human comedy, you get For America, the anthem of a disillusioned patriot. ("I was made for America/ Her shining dream plays in my mind/ By the rockets' red glare/ A generation's blank stare.") That opens an angry political sermon on chauvinism, militarism and electoral hucksterism. A tough crowd, including guitarists Gary Myrick, Rick Vito and Steve Lukather, was recruited to make the music match the message. Browne's resonant voice is surprisingly effective in this setting. The only vestiges of his folksy Mr. Lonelyhearts past are Black and White and In the Shape of a Heart. Yet Browne's activist tilt is neither stuffy nor doctrinaire. That's because he brings the same honesty and concern to these larger issues as he did to more personal ones. (Asylum)

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