There's been some controversy over the production of the Jayhawks' third album, Hollywood Town Hall. George Drakoulias, who created the crisp retro of the two Block Crowes records, is said to have neutered the Jayhawks' country-rock sound in an attempt to turn them into similarly platinum stars. But here's a distinction: The Crowes transparently retread sounds and ideas and looks originated two decades ago by their betters (the Stones and the Faces, among others). The Jayhawks, by contrast, are trying to breathe new life into a time-honored genre, and they seem to have talent. Since that genre lacks a commercial base, the band and Drokoulias should be given credit for doing whatever they have to, short of constructing techno remixes, to shoehorn the sound into young and unsuspecting ears. I think they do it superbly. On the record songwriters Gary Louris and Mark Olsen have been given luscious settings for their mid-tempo country-soul ballads. There's a prairie spaciousness to the arrangements, the ragged harmonies and soaring guitar solos. The swells of organ and the patina of steel guitar make reference to the Band and the Flying Burrito Brothers, even as that crispness reassures you that this is indeed the 90s. The Jayhawks have been in town a lot recently, backing Joe Henry and opening for Matthew Sweet, but this is the bond's first headlining appearance for some time; they're tight, loud, and fun, and worth seeing. Sunday, 7:30 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 549-0203.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Tom Herbers.