Jayhawks albums well worth dusting off

There has been a rekindled interest in the alt-country and roots rock of Minnesota’s finest, The Jayhawks. The main songwriting duo of Gary Louris and Mark Olson have even recently been performing music live on late night talk shows to promote their newly re-released legacy albums.

The Jayhawks:

Hollywood Town Hall (American)

There has been a rekindled interest in the alt-country and roots rock of Minnesota’s finest, The Jayhawks. The main songwriting duo of Gary Louris and Mark Olson have even recently been performing music live on late night talk shows to promote their newly re-released legacy albums.

Hollywood Town Hall was released in 1992 to huge praise and ended up on most rock critics’ best of albums at that year’s end. The Jayhawks wrote and performed superb songs albeit usually, with understated and laidback grooves and honeyed vocal harmonies with beguiling lyrics.

Unfortunately, despite the critical hosannas, The Jayhawks never sold well and Hollywood Town Hall didn’t even crack the top 100 on sales charts even though the wonderful single Waiting For The Sun was a minor hit.

Old fans will be delighted to know that this re-issue legacy edition has five previously unreleased songs highlighted by the early REM-like rocker Leave No Gold and the humorous pure country-pop song Keith & Quinten. Maybe an audience will finally catch up with The Jayhawks’ timeless amalgam of country, rock, folk and pop.

B+

The Jayhawks:

Tomorrow The Green Grass (American)

Tomorrow The Green Grass is generally acknowledged as the best of The Jayhawks’ albums although I have always been partial to Hollywood Town Hall.

Tomorrow The Green Grass, released in 1995, fared only a little better than its predecessor by hitting the top 100 in sales but it stalled at the lowly No. 92 spot with not even a minor hit. Still, the critics loved it and the album’s musical worth just seemed to grow to near mythical portions until this two-CD set re-reissue.

TTGG added a fine keyboard player in Karen Grotberg and their music evolved to a few eclectic genres while Hollywood Town Hall was an even-tempered album where the songs just seemed to blend into one another.

This CD has 18 demo tracks of songs that were being worked up for TTGG while several were never fleshed out into full band songs. But the original TTGG was a joy full of great songs from the edgier Neil Young-like guitar rocker Miss Williams’ Guitar, to the Byrds-like ballad Two Hearts and The Band-like rootsy Red’s Song.

Again, for big fans this is a treasure trove with all the new material and a liner booklet loaded with info and notes.

B+

The Script: Science

& Faith (Epic)

This is the second album from Dublin’s The Script, on the heels of their debut which was a smash hit in the U.K. and spawned five hits. This new album is expected to break the band in North America.

The group comes out of the ashes of a failed boy band Mytown but the band’s newfound success was so large that hometown boys U2, as well as Paul McCartney, had The Script open for them on several shows.

The Script call their music Celtic soul but what I mostly hear is U2-styled anthemia pop with a slick production style that aims for maximum rock radio exposure.

That isn’t necessarily a bad thing but I found the lads’ music somewhat samey, too calculated and uninspiring and I can’t recommend repeated listens.

C-

bwcmitchell@shaw.ca

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