Addicted To Vinyl Musical thoughts from the open road, with headphones on

17May/093

Catalog reissues, anthology due from The Jayhawks

Paste Magazine have announced details of a giant fundraising campaign to help ease the current financial hardship that the magazine is experiencing. You can read more about the fundraising efforts via this excellent post from Heather at I Am Fuel, I Am Friends. A donation to the magazine's campaign will get you a free download of 90+ rare and hard to find MP3s from a diverse selection of artists.

A track from Minneapolis faves the Jayhawks that I didn't have caught my eye among the many available tracks, and after making my donation, I proceeded to download the various MP3s available from the site. It turns out that the Jayhawks track, titled "Help Me Forget," comes off a forthcoming 2 CD Jayhawks anthology, Music From The North Country, which will be released on July 7th.

Surfing over to The Jayhawks Fan Page (a MUST for Jayhawks fans,) I found a track listing for the anthology, and also extensive details regarding forthcoming bonus track packed reissues of the bulk of the band's catalog from Hollywood Town Hall to Rainy Day Music!

Let's start with the anthology, which will be available as both a single disc issue, and the 2 CD version which will have a 2nd CD full of 20 rare and unreleased tracks starting with a track from the band's long out-of-print debut Bunkhouse, and wrapping up with 8 (!) tracks from the sessions for Rainy Day Music, including "Help Me Forget," featured in the Paste downloads.

Here is the track listing for Music From The North Country, with comments from Chris Riemenschneider of the Star Tribune:

jayhawksanthology.jpg

DISC ONE: Two Angels / Ain’t No End / Waiting for the Sun / Martin’s Song / Clouds / Settled Down Like Rain / Blue / I’d Run Away / Over My Shoulder / Miss Williams’ Guitar / Trouble / Big Star / The Man Who Loved Life / Smile / I’m Gonna Make You Love Me / What Led Me To This Town / Tailspin / All the Right Reasons / Save It For a Rainy Day / Angelyne

DISC TWO: Falling Star (from Bunkhouse Album, 1986) / Old Woman From the Red Clay (alt version) / That’s the Bag I’m In (KFAI recording) / Won’t Be Coming Home (early demo) / Stone Cold Mess (HTH outtake) / Mission on 2nd (demo) / Lights (from Sweet Relief album, a classic!) / Darling Today (Blown Away soundtrack) / Break My Mind / Get the Load Out (both “Bad Time” B-sides) / Poor Little Fish (alt version) / Someone Will (Live from Woman’s Club) / Cure for This (this and all the rest are from the band’s rehearsal studio, 1999-2001)/ I Can Make It on My Own / Rotterdam / Follow Me / In the Canyon / Tailspin (alt version) / I Think I’ve Had Enough (Louris home tape) / Help Me Forget

Updated: Here is the track listing for the DVD (which I forgot to mention,) which will be included with the "deluxe" edition only:

Waiting For The Sun (music video) / Settled Down Like Rain (music video) / Take Me With You (When You Go) (music video) / Hollywood Town Hall EPK (20 minutes) - includes full live versions of "Settled Down Like Rain," "Reason To Believe" and "Take Me With You (When You Go)," filmed at the Metro in Chicago on February 14, 1993 / Blue (music video) / I'd Run Away (music video) / Big Star (music video) / Sound Of Lies EPK (7 minutes) / Save It For A Rainy Day (music video)

I'll agree with the comments - I am surprised at the omission of a few tracks from the main disc, particularly "Sister Cry," but man, look at that track listing on the second disc!

Now here's the really good stuff: Reissues of Hollywood Town Hall, Tomorrow The Green Grass, Sound of Lies, Smile, and Rainy Day Music are also on the way from the band and Sony Music! There are a total of 30 bonus tracks spread across the five albums slated for reissue.

Okay, now I can grumble about the fact that the shelved Lost Highway CD issue of Bunkhouse hasn't happened, and the double live album from the Rainy Day Music tour remains on the shelf as well. BUT - Reissues of the two classic Jayhawks albums (Hollywood and Tomorrow) AND Sound of Lies, Smile and Rainy Day Music?

Okay, I'll be quiet now.

To understand how excited I am specifically about the SOL and RDM reissues, you have to understand how much impact individual songs from each of the five planned reissues have had on me personally. I'll share just one of those moments with you now. As Louris moved to carry on with The Jayhawks in name following the departure of Mark Olson, he dropped the Sound of Lies album, an album which made Jayhawks fans nervous not knowing what to expect from the newly revamped 'Hawks. I was very quickly convinced of the legitimacy of a Louris-led Jayhawks from the opening moments of "The Man Who Loved Life" to the closing title track on the album, 12 tracks later.

There was new life in The Jayhawks, and nowhere was that more evident than when drummer Tim O'Reagan stepped in front of the vocal mic for one of my all-time favorite Jayhawks songs, "Bottomless Cup."

The Jayhawks - Bottomless Cup

But you know
The years make things different
If you go
The bottomless cup runs out
You never gave up on me

I think I let you down
I could use you around
There's nothing quite like the sound of
Your voice in the evening
Calling my name
It's getting late

Now chew on these project details from Jayhawks Fan Page member "sacred roots," who worked directly with the members of The Jayhawks to put these forthcoming reissues together. No release dates yet for the reissues, so stay tuned for those details - I will share them when I get them!

This project has been “herculean” in virtually every sense of the word. When consumers buy greatest hits, reissues, etc they rarely have much insight into what it actually takes to make these kinds of things happen.

The process started last summer when Gary mentioned the possibility of a Jayhawks reissue project that would entail re-releasing the individual albums (with “extras”), a greatest hits collection, a “rarities” compilation of some kind and possibly some video content. After some initial discussions, Gary asked me to prepare a series of memos outlining the various facets of this potential project – what form it might take, number of discs, market analysis, what the term “rarity” would encompass, possible problems, etc. After a few months of batting things around with management, archivists and reissue “specialists” the green light was given and the fine people at Sony/Legacy came into the picture. By the way, Sony/Legacy has done a great job with many projects of this type over the years (all of the Dylan archival stuff for example) – they are “pros” in every sense of the word.

The next order of business was to come up with a tracklisting for a single disc “best of.” The next time you’re with a bunch of Jayhawks fans, open the floor for debate on what 18-20 tracks should be included and you’ll have some insight on what proved to be a task that was far more difficult than anyone thought it would be. There are many different criteria that can be used in the decision-making process for such a collection – and most of them are valid in one way or another. The final list will undoubtedly inspire more debate and discussion but it’s nearly impossible to come up with a list that will please novices and hard-core fans alike. Now i know what King Solomon felt like.

The decision was also made at this time to offer a “deluxe” version of the anthology with a rarities disc and a dvd, i.e. a “mini box set.” For “business” reasons I don’t pretend to fully understand, it was determined that a standalone collection of Jayhawks rarities material wasn’t viable in the current market. So, like everybody from The Replacements to REM and U2, buyers will have to purchase a collection that has one disc of material that they already own. As a fan/consumer, I’m not happy about such things, but it’s an unfortunate reality of the current music “bizness.” Better to have this compromise solution than one with no rarities disc at all. Hopefully, the “upcharge” won’t be too severe for the deluxe edition, so the actual price of the greatest hits disc will be minimal.

The plan for the reissues was to cover everything from HTH to RDM, i.e. the American/Columbia era. BE obviously falls outside this timeframe, not to mention it was just reissued with bonus tracks not too long ago. Interestingly, there is no shortage of useable “rarity” material from the BE era -- only the “Smile” era has more hours of material in the can – so another reissue of BE would be viable from a strictly archival perspective. There are literally scads of O/L originals from this period that are either unheard by the public or last played in concert 20 years ago. Sadly, many of the recordings (both live and studio) from this period aren’t in the best quality, although a fair number are, including an entire “lost” album in between the first album and BE that exists solely on two inch tape. The biggest stumbling block with an updated BE reissue are licensing issues – this is just one of many “behind the scenes” factors for this kind of project that your average joe is blissfully unaware of. As is the norm, the reissues would sport 5-6 bonus tracks – a mixture of contemporaneous, previously released “b-sides” and “rarities.” The option was also left open for 2 disc “legacy editions” for some of the releases if there was sufficient material to warrant it.

Once the basic format of the project was firmed up, the real fun began.

When people think of an "archive," many probably think that everything (recording and demo sessions, rehearsals, live recordings, etc) is all in one place, neatly organized and labeled, and stored in a climate-controlled vault. If only that were true in this case [insert image of your long-suffering archivist dreamily fantasizing]. Like so many bands that have been around for 20+ years, the state of the Jayhawks' archive is far from perfect. Gary has been threatening to let me loose in his basement for years; when the idea of this project was first floated last year, he finally made the decision to open the floodgates, so to speak. Imagine box after box full of cassettes, DATs, CD/CDRs, 2-inch tapes -- some marked, many not -- scattered around and mixed in with other stuff in a cluttered basement and you'll have some idea of the state of the Jayhawk's archive 6 months ago. After some initial sorting, we began a very time-consuming process of listening to the various recordings -- sometimes up in his living room, sometimes in his basement studio next to the "piles." Notes were made, ideas discussed, potential candidates were debated. Each time I’d go over to his house, he’d be armed with another pile of stuff that he had just found somewhere. The amount of material grew at an alarming rate; I quickly surmised that this wasn’t gonna be “quick and easy.”

When Gary and his family went to Spain in January, I took several boxes home with me and began the even more labor-intensive process of transferring everything into the digital domain. With the DATs and cassettes, this, of course, had to be done in real time. For several weeks I was basically a transfer zombie. When I came home from my day job, I’d fire up the cassette decks and DAT machine (which Ed Ackerson from Flowers kindly lent me) and zap everything onto a dedicated hard drive using an expensive digital sound card. While that was taking place in the background, I’d review material that had already been transferred. In some cases I had tracklistings to go by; in many cases all I had was source material marked “demos 1988” or “practice 86” or “batch 1” or “gary’s demos” or “song ideas 2.” I painstakingly cataloged everything and took notes about sound quality, song identification, etc.

Aside from Gary’s “archive,” other avenues were explored, too. Marc and Tim both had a fair amount of stuff, including a stack of DATs containing demo sessions from the Smile / RDM era recorded at the former NE Mpls Jayhawks rehearsal space. These DATs had been mixed down from ADAT (an obsolete digital multi-track recording format) and were generally of superb quality. There's a logbook for the ADATs that lists a truly staggering amount of material laid down to tape during this period. Some of it was never mixed down to two track and some of the mixed down DATs are missing, but there were still several full DATs that had to be examined. Some material was located at Flowers (where the Jayhawks did a lot of demo and mixing work for the last two albums) and there also is a lot of material in the Columbia vaults (mostly b-side type stuff but some outtakes, too).

After a few months of transferring/ cataloging and careful examination, I prepared a series of 6 “reference” CDRs (2 discs for just the “Smile” era) of demos, outtakes, rehearsals, radio sessions and a few live tracks containing what I thought were the best candidates for a rarities collection and the reissue bonus tracks. Added to this “pile” were all of the previously released “rarities” (b-sides, bonus tracks, soundtrack and compilation tracks, etc) plus some crucial last-minute additions that Gary located right before the deadline (including a killer alternate version from the SOL era, a period for which, sadly, there is almost nothing of sufficient quality in terms of “rarities”). From this universe, the final selections were made – 20 “rarities” tracks for the deluxe Anthology edition and approximately 30 bonus tracks for the 5 album reissues.

The final technical phase for rarities material was done last month. This involved Fed-Ex-ing the pertinent source material to NYC so professional transfers could be done before everything was mastered at Sterling Sound. The mastering was done by the legendary Greg Calbi and the results are amazing; some of the older material has literally come back to life. The “Mystery Demo” material was also transferred at this time using DAT copies of the original session tapes and analog safety copies to patch in a few spots where the DATs were damaged. None of the “Mystery Demo” material was used for the rarities disc or bonus tracks – 18 of those are slated to appear on the second disc of the TTGG “legacy edition” (the selection process for that was practically a mini-herculean project by itself; more on that – maybe – at a later date).

From the beginning, this project involved countless email exchanges, phone conversations and brainstorming sessions. There were basically just 3 of us involved in hammering out the musical side of this project: me, Gary and John Jackson, the project manager at Sony/Legacy. Valuable input came from the other band members and a variety of other people – studio personnel, technicians, tape vault librarians and even a few fanpagers. This process was further complicated due to the fact that Gary has been away from home for virtually all of 2009 so far. Nothing like management by committee when the members were usually in different time zones if not continents. The communication process by itself was enough to push this project into the “herculean” zone.

How 'bout that?

It's a good year to be a Jayhawks fan, friends!