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CD REVIEW: Golden Smog - Stay Golden, Smog: The Best of Golden Smog - The Rykodisc Years
By Jarrod Brogdon - 09/19/2008 - 10:40 PM EDT

Artist: Band: Golden Smog
Album: Stay Golden, Smog
Label: Rykodisc/Rhino
Genre: Americana, Folk, Acoustic
CD Review:

What would it sound like if members of Uncle Tupelo/Wilco, Soul Asylum, the Jayhawks and other influential bands of 90’s indie and alt country got together to compare notes and create songs?  Nothing short of magnificence, of course.  Not since the Wilbury's traveled has a super group created such undeniably good music. 

Taken from 3 albums recorded by the group on the Rykodisc Label from 1992 to 1998, the songs making up this album are Pure Alternative Country ‘Gold’.  The songs were written by different band members of Golden Smog or leftover from unrecorded material from the members’ other bands.  Smog also saw a couple of reincarnations over the years with musicians and friends entering and leaving the band.

What makes the tracks on this album magnificent is that they capture the spirit of a group of friends making music for the love of making music.  The songs are appreciated and given the respect that the art deserves.  You can hear in the music the mutual admiration between these friends/band mates when they entered the studio to bring the notes and words to life. No one over-stepping the other or trying to steal the spotlight.

This mutual respect is most evident in “Jennifer Save Me”, written by Gary Louris and Kraig Johnson.  The emotion is breathed through the sound waves in the acoustic earthiness of this song. Jeff Tweedy’s “Pecan Pie” is a Boxcar Willie ode to a favorite dessert and the ‘apple of his eye’.  “Red-headed Stepchild”, by Dan Murphy and Marc Perlman, is an up-tempo rocker.  From the opening bars of “Until You Came Along” (think the Heartbreakers) to the cover of Brian Wilson’s “Love and Mercy”, the mutations of the band are hardly evident, with the hooky, sing-along harmonies and simple earthiness of Americana (proof is "If I Only Had a Car"). 

Buy this album wherever good music is sold.

Verdict: Please Stay Golden, Smog…and keep respecting the music.

For fans of Wilco, The Jayhawks, The Byrds, The Traveling Wilbury’s and music in general.

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