Tuesday, 18 January 2011

“Tomorrow The Green Grass” by THE JAYHAWKS (2011 American 2CD 'Legacy Edition' Reissue and Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"…Deeper Yellow On The Corn…"
February 1995's "Tomorrow The Green Grass" showed that after two accomplished Indie albums (1986 and 1989) and their stunning 1992 breakthrough effort "Hollywood Town Hall" - THE JAYHAWKS was a truly great Americana band finally hitting their stride. 

It received Universal acclaim and has been beloved ever since. 

This January 2011 Reissue/Remaster of "Tomorrow The Green Grass" is a massive overhaul of their revered 4th album - a 2CD 'Legacy Edition' - and American 88697 72732 2 (Barcode 886977273223) breaks down as follows...

Disc 1 (68:20 minutes):
1. Blue
2. I'd Run Away
3. Miss Williams' Guitar
4. Two Hearts 
5. Real Light 
6. Over My Shoulder 
7. Bad Time 
8. See Him On The Street 
9. Nothing Left To Borrow
10. Ann Jane
11. Pray For Me
12. Red's Song
13. Ten Little Kids
Tracks 1 to 13 are the album "Tomorrow The Green Grass" released February 1995 on American Recordings 43006 

Track 14 is "Tomorrow The Green Grass", a studio recording, non-album B-side from the 1995 single "Blue"
Tracks 15, 16 and 18 are "You And I (Ba Ba Ba)", "Sweet Hobo Self" and "Sleep While You Can" and are all PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED
Track 17 is "Last Cigarette", a studio recording, non-album B-side from the 1995 single "Bad Time" which features Karen Grotberg on Lead Vocals 

Disc 2 (72:17 minutes):
1. Pray For Me
2. Won't Be Coming Home
3. No Place
4. Precious Time
5. Poor Michael's Boat 
6. Ranch House In Phoenix
7. Cotton Dress
8. She Picks The Violets
9. Bloody Hands
10. Up Above The River
11. Over My Shoulder
12. Blue From Now On (Take 2)
13. Hold Me Close 
14. Turn Your Pretty Name Around 
15. You And I (Ba-Ba-Ba)
16. Red's Song
17. Nothing Left To Borrow
18. While Shell Road
Tracks 1 to 18 are called "The Mystery Demos" and are all PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED
1 to 10 are Mark Olson and Gary Louris ‘Demos’ recorded 6 February 1992 in Minneapolis with Mike "Razz" Russell on Violin  
11 to 18 are Mark Olson and Gary Louris ‘Acoustic Demos’ recorded October 1992 in Los Angeles with the album's producer George Drakoulias overseeing the session 

The album produced 3 singles - "Bad Time" (backing vocals by Sharleen Spiteri of Texas), "Blue" and "I'd Run Away" which featuring a plethora of outtakes and previously unreleased tracks across worldwide releases. I mention this because the eagle-eyed fan will notice that there are 3 B-sides NOT featured here (and there was room for them) - they're on the superlative "Music From The North Country" American Recordings 2CD/1DVD compilation from 2009. The band probably didn't want to duplicate what fans have already bought - but 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’. 

The 3-way card digipak features a 24-page booklet with liner notes by band-archivist PD LARSON - photos of the boys in the studio - out on the road, pictures beneath the 2 see-through plastic trays etc. It's very nicely done and in keeping with the original black and white artwork. 

The original tapes have been remastered by VIC ANESINI (he also did the "Music From The North Country" set - see separate review) and the sound quality is BEAUTIFUL - so sweet and warm. Tracks like "Blue" and "Two Hearts" 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 "Pray For Me" (with Victoria Williams on Backing Vocals - lyrics above) and the pretty "Ann Jane" - they now sound 'so' good. 

As you can imagine - the previously unreleased stuff is a mixture of the great and the ordinary. The 2 B-sides on Disc 1 are only OK, but the 3 outtakes are surprisingly good - especially "Sweet Hobo Self". The plaintive "You And I (Ba Ba Ba)" could have been a great lost classic - it starts out so well, but then seems to get lost in a lyrical mess that the band forgot to come back to - to sort out. 

Disc 2 offers up a whopping 18 demo versions. With so many songs recording in one gulp - and being demos - mistakes and glitches are left in and the production is basic (a lot of hiss on the Oct 1992 sessions) - but it actually imbibes the songs that didn't make the final cut like "Won't Be Coming Home" and "Poor Michael's Boat" with a stripped down intimacy that will thrill hardcore fans.  The "Blue From Now On" demo for instance is as gorgeous in rough-cut as is the finished version (eventually just called "Blue"). Some are dull though like "Red's Song" and "Bloody Hands" - some surprise you like the excellent "Ranch House In Phoenix" while "Nothing Left To Borrow" is as lovely as The Jayhawks get. While it’s not quite the wow the Deluxe Edition of Whiskeytown's "Strangers Almanac" is (see separate review) - it's still very good indeed.  

To sum up - the Remaster is superlative, the packaging is excellent and the 'works-in-progress' extras give us a 'deeper' feel for the album and are often shockingly good. Go for it and enjoy...

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