Minnesota's Jayhawks are one of the best things to come out of the '90s. The harmonies of Mark Olson and Gary Louris are the closest thing contemporary music has to the Everly Brothers. Their songwriting blends melodies that are instantly indelible with lyrics that reveal their mysteries only after many listens and time to reflect. Their ensemble playing pairs a muscular crunch with a nimble, light touch, sometimes in the same song.
What we have here are 11 tracks culled from cd singles and a promotional EP released in conjunction with their two classic albums, Hollywood Town Hall and Tomorrow the Green Grass -- except "Sleepyhead", an outtake from their tepid, Olson-less Grass follow-up, Sound of Lies. My favorites are covers, "Last Cigarette" (by that great songwriter, Anonymous), sung by the band's keyboard player Karen Grotberg, and a romp through gospel standard "Up Above My Head". For those who love the band's elliptical songwriting, though, "Keith and Quentin" and "Leave No Gold" are up there with any originals on Hollywood -- though perhaps not those on the near-flawless Green Grass. Speaking of which, also here is an example of one of my favorite rock phenomena, a non-album title song, to go with that very album. The live tracks give a taste of the band's onstage power.
A flyer included with The Jayhawks' new reissue of their previously very rare, self-titled debut disc touts forthcoming "deluxe" reissues of those two great albums, HTH and TTGG, and most if not all of these tracks will likely appear there. Meanwhile, though, here they are on The Rare Stuff!
Last Cigarette Bad Time (Single)
Get The Load Out Bad Time (Single)
Sing Me Back Home Bad Time (Single)
Sleepyhead Big Star (Single)
Tomorrow The Green Grass Blue (Single)
Darling Today Blue (Single)
Leave No Gold Scrapple [EP]
Keith And Quentin Scrapple [EP]
Up Above My Head Scrapple [EP]
Sister Cry (Live) Settled Down Like Rain (Single)
Martin's Song / Settled Down Like Rain (Live) Settled Down Like Rain (Single)