The Jayhawks – Hollywood Town Hall [Expanded Edition] (2011)

Posted by Green on February 11, 2020as


It was one of the more unlikely major-label releases of 1992: it had nothing to do with grunge, and was certainly not a last holdout from ’80s mainstream sludge. On the flipside, it wasn’t really the incipient alternative country/No Depression sound, either; for all that, there was a clear influence from the likes of Gram Parsons and fellow travelers throughout the grooves. This wasn’t a sepia-toned collection of murder ballads or the similarly minded efforts that were almost overreactions to Nashville’s triumphalism throughout the ’90s. At base, Hollywood Town Hall found a finely balanced point: accessible enough for should-have-been success (sclerotic classic rock station programmers were fools to ignore this while still playing the Eagles into the ground) but bowing to no trends. Its lack of variety tells against it a bit—while there are certainly stronger moments than others, most of the songs do have a tendency to blend into each other—but the core strengths of the group come through. George Drakoulias fleshed out the sound just enough, with the side help of performers like Benmont Tench and Nicky Hopkins adding fine extra touches without swamping the identity of the group. Piano and organ may be prevalent, but it’s really Olson and Louris’ great harmonies that are the core of things, giving songs like “Crowded in the Wings” and “Settled Down Like Rain” a high and lonesome sparkle. Callahan’s a good drummer, if not particularly noteworthy, but he keeps the pace steady without dominating the tracks, Drakoulias keeping him back in the mix a bit. Olson’s eventual departure isn’t really explained by this disc: he might have been tired of the attempt to aim for commercial success, but this sounds more like something made for the group’s own satisfaction that connects beyond it as well.

In 2011, American Recordings released an expanded and remastered edition of Hollywood Town Hall that added five bonus tracks to the album. “Leave No Gold,” “Keith and Quentin,” and “Up Above My Head” had previously surfaced on a rare, promo-only disc, and the latter two also appeared on single B-sides, but this marks their first appearance on an album, while “Warm River” and “Mother Trust You to Walk to the Shore” are session outtakes that have never been issued anywhere before. While none of these songs qualify as lost classics, “Leave No Gold” is a potent rocker that gives Gary Louris plenty of room to work out on guitar, and they’re all fine addendums to the Jayhawks’ finest and most enduring album. The new edition also includes a fine essay from producer George Drakoulias on the surprisingly long and difficult journey of creating Hollywood Town Hall, an album that sounds natural and unforced.


01. Waiting for the Sun (Mark Olson / Gary Louris) 04:20
02. Crowded in the Wings (Mark Olson / Gary Louris) 04:56
03. Clouds (Mark Olson / Gary Louris) 04:51
04. Two Angels (Mark Olson / Gary Louris) 04:04
05. Take Me with You [When You Go] (Mark Olson / Gary Louris) 04:51
06. Sister Cry (Mark Olson / Gary Louris) 04:08
07. Settled Down Like Rain (Mark Olson / Gary Louris) 03:01
08. Wichita (Mark Olson / Gary Louris / Marc Perlman) 05:26
09. Nevada, California (Mark Olson / Gary Louris) 04:05
10. Martin’s Song (Mark Olson / Gary Louris) 03:02

Bonus Tracks
11. Leave No Gold (Mark Olson / Gary Louris) 05:50
12. Keith And Quentin (Mark Olson / Gary Louris) 02:39
13. Up Above My Head (Mark Olson / Gary Louris) 02:38
14. Warm River (Mark Olson / Gary Louris) 03:25
15. Mother Trust You to Walk to the Store (Mark Olson / Gary Louris) 03:54

Mark Olson: Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Harmonica
Gary Louris: Vocals, Electric Guitar, Fuzz Guitar
Marc Perlman: Bass
Ken Callahan: Drums
Additional players:
Benmont Tench: piano
Nicky Hopkins: piano (4, 10)
Charlie Drayton: Drums (Keith Richards’ Expensive Winos)

One Comment

  • Anonymous says:

    Hi, links to this album don’t seem to work anymore.
    Is it possible to upload it again ?
    Thank you !

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *