Hollywood Town Hall Expanded Edition
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Hollywood Town Hall
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Legacy's release of Music From The North Country in July 2009, the band's career-spanning double-CD anthology, came with a promise of future Jayhawks catalog projects to arrive in 2010. Hollywood Town Hall, The Jayhawks Def American debut from 1992, features the original album's 10 songs augmented with five bonus tracks, two of them previously unreleased, another two tracks previously commercially unavailable in the U.S. (B-sides from a foreign single release), and one track previously commercially unavailable.
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After two accomplished Indie albums in 1986 and 1989 ("The Jayhawks" and "Blue Earth"), The Jayhawks finally made everyone sit up and take notice with their stunning 1992 breakthrough Americana effort "Hollywood Town Hall". This January 2011 Legacy Edition is a remaster of that revered 3rd album and now features 5 bonus tracks (two of which are previously unreleased).
American 88697 72731 2 breaks down as follows (61:12 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 10 are the album "Hollywood Town Hall" released in 1992 on Def American 26829 (it finally charted in the USA in early 1993)
Tracks 11, 12 and 13 are "Leave No Gold", "Keith And Quentin" and "Up Above My Head" - they first appeared on a Promo-Only 1993 Def American US CD compilation called "Scrapple" (11 was a bonus track on the European edition of the CD album, while 12 and 13 later turned up as non-album B-sides on the European and Australian CD singles for "Waiting For The Sun")
Tracks 14 and 15 are "Warm River" and "Mother Trust You To Walk To The Store" - and are PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED
Tracks 1 to 15 are all written by MARK OLSON and GARY LOURIS and produced by GEORGE DRAKOULIAS - except "Witchita" (Track 8) which is co-written with Marc Perlman and Track 14 which is a Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Marie Knight cover version of "Up Above My Head, I Hear Music In The Air" (1949 Gospel tune on Decca)
The 2011 2CD Legacy Edition of "Tomorrow The Green Grass" is missing 3 non-album B-sides (when there was room for them) because they're on the superlative "Music From The North Country" American Recordings 2CD/1DVD compilation from 2009 - the same applies here. There are 2 outtakes on "Music From..." called "Stone Cold Mess" and "Mission On 2nd" which are NOT on this issue - the band probably didn't want to duplicate what fans have already bought. It's worth mentioning that if you want a fuller picture, you'll need 'both' releases despite this being a supposed all-encompassing 'Legacy Edition'. I've reviewed "Music From..." and "Tomorrow..." separately.
Instead of a 3-way card digipak like "Tomorrow..." - this CD is in a jewel case and features an upgraded 20-page booklet with new liner notes by the album's producer and long-time band friend George Drakoulias. There's the original Joe Henry liner notes from December 1991 with new photos of the boys in the studio, out on the road, typed and handwritten lyric sheets - it's very nicely done and in keeping with the original artwork.
The original tapes have been remastered by VIC ANESINI (he also did the "Music From The North Country" set) and the sound quality is BEAUTIFUL - so sweet and warm. Tracks like "Waiting For The Sun", "Martin's Song" and "Settled Down Like Rain" were standouts anyway on the original CD, but here they sound just gorgeous. The remaster also makes you rehear a lot of the lesser-lauded gems on the record like the plaintive Ryan Adams guitar-feel of "Take Me With You (When You Go)" and "Nevada, California" - they now sound 'so' good and as growers - they've have stood the test of time.
To sum up - the remaster is superlative, the booklet is improved and the 5 bonus tracks are cleverly chosen and worthy additions.
Very, very good indeed....and as a band...I sorely miss them. Recommended.
But it's imperfect. There's not a lot of variation, structurally, from one disc to another. It's easy for your attention to wander and the songs to blend together. This is a shame, since each song is thematically distinct; but when the instrumentation sounds the same from track to track, you can miss it.
Some star tracks, like "Nevada, California," or "Sistar Cry," really do stand out, especially if you listen to Americana radio and have heard them before. And all the songs, with there Dylan-like opacity, suggest a much larger story behind what they tell us. This disk really presages everything good that was destined to come out of alt-country in the twelve years between this album and now.
Unfortunately, if you're not already into the genre, this isn't the album for you. But for those of us who love Americana, this is a sort of "Missing Link" album, and much worth listening to. Just remember, if your attention wanders, don't be afraid to listen to it again and again. It will grow on you, and very quickly too.