Music From The North Country: The Jayhawks Anthology
By Shane Handler
August 14, 2009
Formed in 1985 in Minneapolis with Mark Olson (acoustic guitar and vocals), Gary Louris (electric guitar and vocals), Marc Perlman (bass) and Norm Rogers (drums), The Jayhawks were sorely one of the most under-rated bands of their era.Their songwriting combined the country tinged songwriting of Gram Parsons mixed with Beatles' flourishes, while instigating the pop charms of Big Star.Although falling under the shadow of alt-country cousins Wilco and Son Volt they were AM and Summerteeth shook up in a jar and squeezed with a pinch of The Byrds.
Music From The North Country: The Jayhawks Anthology features 20 songs from six of their seven studio albums:Blue Earth (1989), Hollywood Town Hall (1992), Tomorrow The Green Grass (1995), Sound Of Lies (1997), Smile (2000) and Rainy Day Music (2003). Although the band has since ceased recording and touring under the Jayhawks name,Olson and Louris have recently toured as An Evening with Mark Olson & Gary Louris, Together Again.
Like the recent Radiohead greatest hits compilation, a greatest hits set doesn’t really do The Jayhawks justice as their albums have gems scattered in and about, but this respective serves a your standard cliff notes for beginners.One can hear the influences of the Olson/Louris song-writing team carve out niche alt-country rockers (“Waiting for the Sun”) to memorable pop nuggets (“Blue,” “I’d Run Away"). Once Olsen left the outfit in late '95, the band, with a rotating cast of new members, explored psychedelia and later synthesizers and drum loops found in Smile.
The Jayhawk’s sound was brought back home with the stellar Rainy Day Music , which featured some of their strongest music (“Tailspin,” “Save It For A Rainy Day,” All The Right Reasons”) , right till the very end.If you haven’t given the Jayhawks a chance on your ears, Music From The North Country will help you get started – but from there you owe yourself to go out and hear the non-greatest hits versions.