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Editorial Reviews

In the mid-1980s, this Minneapolis band shared tavern stages with fellow hometown punk bands like the Replacements and Soul Asylum, dishing out a then-unique blend of country-rock that pre-dated "alt country" by a decade. More than 15 years later, their sixth album is also their second without cofounder Mark Olson. Led by Gary Louris, the newfangled Jayhawks play pop music in the truest sense of the word, and Smile is another trademarked batch of their heartrending laments: hooks that you can't get out of your head ("I'm Gonna Make You Love Me"); melodies snatched off of '70s AM radio ("Mr. Wilson"); epic harmonies from the Big Star handbook ("What Led Me to This Town"); and even a modest attempt at Midwestern hip-hop ("Somewhere in Ohio"). Produced by Bob Ezrin (Pink Floyd's The Wall), Smile is a tad slicker than 1997's Sound of Lies. But like its predecessor, this record's charm rests in a handful of dazzling ballads ("Better Days," "A Break in the Clouds" and "Broken Harpoon")--polished, yes, but never overbearing. --Scott Holter

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Smile
  2. I'm Gonna Make You Love Me
  3. What Led Me To This Town
  4. Somewhere In Ohio
  5. A Break In The Couds
  6. Queen Of The World
  7. Life Floats By
  8. Broken Harpoon
  9. Pretty Thing
  10. Mr. Wilson
  11. (In My) Wildest Dreams
  12. Better Days
  13. Baby, Baby, Baby

Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 11, 2002)
  • Original Release Date: 2000
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: American
  • ASIN: B000068FXS
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #109,366 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Gianmarco Manzione on May 10, 2000
Format: Audio CD
Bob Ezrin, legendary producer for Pink Floyd, Alice Cooper, Kiss and Lou Reed among others, touches this album with a subtle production that suits the album's subdued sound and superb songwriting. Every song offers a chorus thick enough to sink your teeth into, with lonely piano or guitar accompaniments that just leap out of the songs and hook your ears. While every song showcases this group's writing talent, tracks like "Smile," "Ohio" and "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" exhibit heavanly singing and background vocals that sound very much like the Traveling Wilbury's at times. The music is mature and atmospheric, the songwriting is hot, the vocals are always confident, and this is yet another great Jayhawks release. With the acsessible pop feel to this record, I cannot imagine it disappointing anyone, new fan or old.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Vandal from St. Paul on December 4, 2001
Format: Audio CD
A significant departure from their earlier work, Smile offers a more produced and mainstream sound. Purists of their work might be disappointed and argue that they sold out their original sound. I disagree.
A worthy comparison might be looking at the growth of REM from the roots flavored rock of their earlier albums to the breakout hits Green and Out of Time. In my opinion, Smile makes this transition more successfully than REM by appealing to a new audience without giving up the intensity and creativity of their music.
"I'm Going To Make You Love Me" is a fun pop song that might lose its appeal over time but, other songs like the title track, "Somewhere In Ohio", and my personal favorite "Baby, Baby" are as energetic and spirited of tunes that the band has ever produced.
The slower, folksier, "What Led Me To This Town", "Break in The Clouds," and "Mr. Wilson" provide the perfect balance by showing the band and its most poignant.
A true follower of the Jayhawks will still see the underlying themes of their previous work. This album is far from a sell out, in fact it may be their best yet.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Erik Hans Valebrokk on May 9, 2000
Format: Audio CD
"Wake up/Put your shoes on/Take a breath of the northern air/And rub those eyes/Genuflect beneath the starry skies". Thus opens Smile, The Jayhawks' sixth album in 15 years, their definitive masterpiece. It is also the new millennium's best album so far. Smile is so brimful of strong melodies and convincing work that it almost redefines rock music as we know it. The Jayhawks today is in my humble ears the best rock band on the planet. The 13 songs that constitute Smile are with a few exceptions absolutely remarkeable, whether we're talking about the melodies, lyrics, arrangements or production. There are also harmonies you wouldn't belive. Smile is one of those records you really NEED, that you must live with and enjoy. And if you don't like it, there is something wrong with you, alright?
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Michael Sebastian on September 2, 2000
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I discovered the Jayhawks a few years back when "Blue" was getting a lot of radio airplay--shamefully, the only Jayhawks song that I've ever heard on the radio. Intrigued, and absolutely haunted by that song--which still brings tears to my eyes everytime I hear it--I bought "Tomorrow the Green Grass". Wow. And WOW. We have nearly worn the pixels off of it. My second acquisition was "Hollywood Town Hall", which is more country, more mellow, but less melancholy to my ear. But more WOW.
I was never able to convince my wife--she was not fond of the group's vocals, terming them "harsh", an uncharitable but sometimes accurate description. But we caught their act live here in Louisville two nights ago, and they simply destroyed us. Blew us both away.
These guys are top-flight, first-rate musicians, with command of the stage and of their craft. Their performance was heavy with "Smile" songs, not surprisingly, and they had the audience in their hip pocket from the first bar to the last encore. Simply put, the best live band I have ever seen of any size in any venue. And they warmed my heart by finishing with a slightly edgier and brighter rendition of "Blue"--but I still was dabbing my eyes.
"Smile", which we bought after the performance, has taken the 3rd slot in our multi-disc changer, and we hope to have de-pixelated it in a few days. We simply cannot get these guys out of our heads--and you won't, either, if you love heartfelt, beautifully realized music from the soul and the gut. These guys are a must for any music lover of any genre, and "Smile" is a worthy addition to their catalogue.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Terry on May 25, 2000
Format: Audio CD
A strange match of artist and producer but, opposites attract! Drum machines, tape loops and multi layers actually make this record something a little different and quite interesting. Still showing their roots but moving forward in the pop realm (similar to Sound of Lies) these songs are solid, catchy and sung beatifully (as usual). Anyone who didn't 'get it' on the first listen needs to put this record back in the CD player, sit back, open your ears, and forget about focusing on the country twang riffs that you've grown to expect from this band. They can still do it, it's just that now it's time for growth. And, they're keeping it interesting by not rehashing the same old sounds.
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