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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars So nearly a classic..., 11 Sep 2003
This review is from: Rainy Day Music (Audio CD)
The Jayhawks- America's greatest unknown band. If there were any justice in the cruel world of music, these guys would be multi-millionaires, sunning themselves in Beverley Hills, sipping champagne while young, buxom beauties feed them grapes. But instead, they remain undiscovered by the general public, destined to forever plough a lonely Americana furrow. But what a furrow it is.
The Jayhawks are perhaps best known for their crowning achievement Hollywood Town Hall, a towering album that still stands as the best slice of American music made by anyone in the last 15 years. With Rainy Day Music however, they have created an album that comes close, oh so close, to equalling their former heights. The first six songs are magnificant, with Stumbling Through the Dark, Tailspin and Save It For a Rainy Day among the best songs in the 'Hawks canon. Problems arise however, when Gary Louris, the chief songwriter, allows three songs to make it on to the album that are, in all honesty, substandard. While one of the songs-You Look so Young- is penned by himself, the other wretched two, Don't Let the World Get in Your Way and Will I See You in Heaven, prevent the album from being a bona fide masterpiece. If only Louris had replaced these songs with Fools on Parade, Say Your Prayers and Caught With A Smile on my Face from the bonus disc that came with early pressings of the album, Rainy Day Music would not only have been the greatest Jayhawks album,but one of the greatest ever recorded. As I said, oh so close.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not just for a rainy day, 13 May 2003
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This review is from: Rainy Day Music (Audio CD)
After the patchy 'Sound OF Lies' and the disastrously experimental 'Smile', Gary Louris needed to pull an album of great songs out of the bag to prove that the Jayhawks weren't washed up when Mark Olson left to pursue a quasi-solo career with wife Victoria Williams. Wisely, he's chosen to return to ditch the preoccupation with 1960's acid-rock and return to the rootsy, folky rock music that did so much to make the Jayhawks' name in the first place.
The album vindicates his decision. It's a wonderful slice of sunny, summery pop music and deceptively simple, but strong, songwriting. The vocal harmonies are out in force, and the influence of producer Ethan Johns shines through with the Byrdsian jangle of polished guitars and raw, honest production values. For any newcomers to the Jayhawks, this is as good a place to start as any - accessible and deep. (You may want to check "Tomorrow The Green Grass" first, though.)
From 'Stumbling Through The Dark' via 'All The Right Reasons',' Save It For A Rainy Day', 'One Man's Problem', the harmonies and tunes keep on coming, one after the other. It's almost an embarrassment of riches - until Tim O'Reagan contributes 'Don't Let The World Get In Your Way', which sounds uncannily like David Bowie's Space Oddity but isn't anywhere near as good. Not to despair - the album finishes strongly with 'Tampa To Tulsa' and a reprise of the opening track, by which time you want to press 'play' and enjoy it all over again. Perfect for summer, and great to hear the Jayhawks doing what they do best once again.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Album of the year 2003 is a 'back to the roots' rock album, 8 Jan 2004
By 
This review is from: Rainy Day Music (Audio CD)
Rainy Day Music is one of those records that you just didn't expect this year. Between the dominance of the Rap and Hip Hop scnens, to the revival of 'harder' forms of rock than the Jayhawks' folkish kind by groups like the White Stripes et al, there just didn't seem to be any room left for them. Be that as it may, these veterans have made a record that stands out, a record comparable to me ,to the great Dylan records (Desire,Blood on the Tracks) or After the Gold Rush , or any other on that list. Simple, acoustic,mostly quiet music that is mississippi delta as much as it is pop-like in melody.
Don't miss it. Within it my especial reccommendation goes to two tracks: 'All the right reasons' ,which is a brilliant ballad, and 'Save it for a rainy day', which is more driven and majoristic.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Appeals to all alt-country lovers not just Jayhawks fans., 17 July 2004
This review is from: Rainy Day Music (Audio CD)
More mainstream-sounding than most of their previous albums, and the harmonies sound a lot smoother. I would like to say rootsy but everyone seems to be describing this album like that so I won't bother, but it appeals to me more than say, "Hollywood Town Hall" which I still fail to see why it gets such rave reviews (don't get me wrong, still a good album). My other favourite is "Tomorrow The Green Grass", but getting back to "Rainy Day Music"; those who like their music more on the beaten path should like it. Those who like to stray from this path, try it anyway, or listen to Wilco, or whatever.
P.S. If you're a fan, look for the special edition version with the Bonus CD "More Rain", which contains 5 more live and unreleased tracks.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best albums of recent years, 25 Feb 2004
This review is from: Rainy Day Music (Audio CD)
This has to be one of the highlights of 2003. Rainy Day Music is just fantastic, so much so that I've driven everyone I know crazy by constantly singing "Save it for a Rainy Day", which has to be one of the best things they've ever written. I would recommend this album to anyone who loves the laid back Amercana sound, and anyone who's heard me sing and wants to know what the album really sounds like.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, not quite perfect, 16 April 2003
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As the Amazon critic says, this is a fine album marred only by a couple of less immediately appealing tracks on the back half where Gary Louris generously and democratically hands the reins to Marc Perlman or Tim O'Reagan. The first half-dozen songs are vintage Louris -- both upbeat and bittersweet -- recalling The Byrds at their folk-rock best. The (alleged) overproduction of their last album "Smile" is replaced here with a more stripped-down sound that accentuates the country-rock vibe.
Although many still prefer The Jayhawks of yore (when Mark Olsen was the prime mover), personally I like everything Mr Louris and this revitalised band throw at me -- from the desperate angst of "Sound of Lies" and the mellow pop of "Smile" to this, more rootsy album.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect soundtrack to a lazy summer, 13 May 2003
By 
After the patchy 'Sound OF Lies' and the disastrously experimental 'Smile', Gary Louris needed to pull an album of great songs out of the bag to prove that the Jayhawks weren't washed up when Mark Olson left to pursue a quasi-solo career with wife Victoria Williams. Wisely, he's chosen to return to ditch the preoccupation with 1960's acid-rock and return to the rootsy, folky rock music that did so much to make the Jayhawks' name in the first place.
The album vindicates his decision. It's a wonderful slice of sunny, summery pop music and deceptively simple, but strong, songwriting. The vocal harmonies are out in force, and the influence of producer Ethan Johns shines through with the Byrdsian jangle of polished guitars and raw, honest production values. For any newcomers to the Jayhawks, this is as good a place to start as any - accessible and deep. (You may want to check "Tomorrow The Green Grass" first, though.)
From 'Stumbling Through The Dark' via 'All The Right Reasons',' Save It For A Rainy Day', 'One Man's Problem', the harmonies and tunes keep on coming, one after the other. It's almost an embarrassment of riches - until Tim O'Reagan contributes 'Don't Let The World Get In Your Way', which is, frankly, rubbish. BUt every album'allowed one clunker, after all.
And the bonus CD more than makes up for it - some gorgeous acoustic guitar and vocals from Gary Louris make you wonder why this wasn't a separate EP. A quality "extra" to go with one of the folky feelgood albums of 2003.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Don't wait for a rainy day to play this, 3 May 2003
So the Jayhawks return once again and another member has moved on.
Now reduced to a three piece of Gary Louris, Tim O'Reagan and Marc Perlman their sound on this album is fleshed out by a series of guests, notably Stephen McCarthy and producer Ethan Johns. Other notable names who crop up during the course of the album are Jakob Dylan, vocals on 'Come to the River', Matthew Sweet, vocals on 'Tailspin, All the Right Reasons and Eyes of Sarahjane' and Bernie Leadon, an original member of the Eagles who adds banjo to 'Tailspin'.
The real star here though is the song writing. Louris weighs in with ten compositions, either written solo or in conjunction with others. His style has continued to develop since Mark Olson's departure and this may be his best collection of songs to date. Highlights are 'Save it for a Rainy Day' and 'Eyes of Sarahjane', with 'Come to the River' chasing them hard.
It's not all about Louris songs though. While the input of O'Reagan (2 songs) and Perlman (1 song) is much less than Louris's they maintain the quality and in 'Will I See You in Heaven' Marc Perlman has penned my favourite track of the album. A little bit thematically similar to Squeeze's 'Some Fantastic Place' this is a gorgeous track and fitting close to the album.
The sound on this album is pared down to match the band, the psychedelic dabbling of smile is all but banished and while the album is not country rock, it also isn't rock with a touch of country. It is a sound the Jayhawks have all to themselves and one that should be heard by a much wider audience.
Already this is guaranteed one of the best of 2003 and if you pick up the limited edition you get 6 extra songs for your money.
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5.0 out of 5 stars More Beautiful Songwriting From America's Best Kept Secret, 2 May 2003
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I've been a huge fan of The Jayhawks since 1995's 'Tomorrow The Green Grass'. Then Mark Olson went and left and everybody assumed it was the end for the band. How wrong. The band has produced some of its finest music since then (plus Olson's voice was a bit grating, in my opinion). For me, it was always Gary Louris that was the cornerstone of the band, in terms of both songwriting and vocal talent. This album sees a blissful return to form following on from 2000's still-excellent-but-slightly-patchy 'Smile'. The writing is exemplary. Someone in another review on this site said the songs are American but with British melodies. I couldn't agree more. The hooks and harmonies are simply lush. They've even managed to recreate the modern Jayhawks sound without the aid of any female backing vocals, following the departure of Karen Grotberg. Quite remarkable.
The only downside to this joyous record is the production. The record is very under-produced on certain tracks, leaving Louris to sound like he's singing in a broom cupboard - sorry, closet! This is a great shame as the previous album 'Smile' sounded immaculate. Still, it's the songs that count and once the disappointment of the sound quality has subsided, the songs themselves are all that matter. Tracks like 'Stumbling Through The Dark', 'All The Right Reasons', 'Save It For A Rainy Day' and 'Eyes Of Sarah Jane' are among the finest the bad have recorded, although I still think 'Sound Of Lies' is still their greatest, most consistent album. My one wish now is to finally see the band perform live as they don't come to the UK very often.
One final thought - if you took the best tracks from The Jayhawks albums 'Hollywood Town Hall' right up to 'Rainy Day Music', it would simply be one of the finest pop records of all time. Time to start burning me a compilation...
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most under-rated bands around return, 14 April 2003
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A. Murdoch (Glasgow United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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A welcome return from the excellent Jayhawks, Rainy Day Music steps back from some of the more experimental sounds of their last album 'Smile' to a more stripped down sound. If you are familiar with the Jayhawks music,RDM will not disappoint - great songwriting, harmonies etc are all very much in evidence.
As with previous Jayhawks albums, repeated plays will reward the listener.RDM is a mellower affair than some of their back catalogue but no worse for it. Every Jayhawks album has its own distinctive flavour and RDM stands up as well as anything from the back catalogue which is very well indeed for my money. Quite frankly, why this band are not huge,I don't know.
I haven't mentioned any single tracks because the whole album is a very satisfying experience from start to finish.
Fans of well-crafted American music (don't care much for labels as country-rock or alt.country does the guys a disservice) who are not familiar with the Jayhawks would do well to start here but don't blame me when you are seized with the urge to acquire the whole back-catalogue! Fans of the Jayhawks will buy this anyway as they rightly should.
If you are quick, you not only get 50 mins of great album but 22 bonus minutes of rare tracks and demos.
Buy this and sit back and congratulate yourself on being hip to one of the best bands around.
Long story short - a winner!
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