CD Reviews for 08/17/09 – The Jayhawks, Big Star

Compact Capsules by Dan Ferguson

The Jayhawks
Music From the North Country
American Recordings

Attention Jayhawks fans out there, bypass the standard single disc and go straight for the deluxe 2-CD/1-DVD version of the new anthology, Music From the North Country. When they first came out of Minneapolis, The Jayhawks carried the Grams Parsons/Flying Burritos torch. Disc 1 shows the evolution from those alt country beginnings right through to the glorious pop rock direction of the band following the departure of co-founder Mark Olson. The real draw of the set, however, is Disc 2 comprised of rarities (a track from the legendary ‘Bunkhouse” LP when the band was flat-out country rockin’ leads it off), unreleased tracks, “B” sides, live stuff, and soundtrack one-offs.

Big Star
#1 Record/Radio City
Fantasy/Ardent Records

The list of artists citing them as primary influence is both long and impressive. Led by ex-Box Tops singer Alex Chilton, Big Star shot out of Memphis in the early 1970s with little pomp and circumstance, but with a power pop sense like few before. In barely over a year, two albums, #1 Record and Radio City, were released. The first was like a science project, a band experimenting to find its sound and still crafting jangly, addicting songs in the process. The more cohesive and thought out Radio City upped the ante. At their heart is the songs of Chilton and the late Chris Bell and in large part is the reason these albums have endured. Now available as a single disc “two-fer”, the remastered reissue of these classics has desert island disc written all over it. (Visit

(Dan Ferguson is a free-lance music writer and host of The Boudin Barndance, broadcast Thursday nights from 6 – 9 pm on WRIU-FM 90.3. He lives in Peace Dale and can be reached at [email protected].)