Golden Smog, Down By The Old Mainstream
A lovable set of originals from a "stuporgroup" of musicians
The call Jeff Tweedy received from a handful of Minneapolis pals in 1994, shortly after Tweedy’s band Uncle Tupelo had splintered, was a godsend. In the midst of picking up the pieces and putting together Wilco, Tweedy had the pleasure of convening in the studio with the Jayhawks’ Gary Louris, Soul Asylum’s Dan Murphy and others to record the full-length debut of Golden Smog, a self-described “stuporgroup” that had recorded a modest EP of covers a few years earlier. The focus this time around was on originals: Louris and his Jayhawks cohort Mark Olson served up the exquisite pop gem “Won’t Be Coming Home” (which hinted at the direction Louris would steer the Jayhawks in the near future), while Tweedy contributed the whimsical sing-along “Pecan Pie.” Kraig Johnson of Run Westy Run had a primary role, writing three originals and collaborating with Louris on the leadoff track, “V,” an instantly catchy tune highlighted by vocal harmonies and piano melodies. Fittingly enough, given the band’s origins, the highlight was once again a cover: Tweedy and Louris proved to be quite charismatic duet partners on Ronnie Lane’s classic Faces ballad “Glad And Sorry.” In the end, Down By The Old Mainstream was just a minor diversion for these artists, but it remains a welcome and lovable tributary.