A good compilation gives a newcomer a chance to sample a group’s best work over the course of its career. Stay Golden, Smog is not a good compilation. It collects songs from only two of the band’s five official releases, and—crassly, to give fans an incentive to open their wallets—tacks on an early version of “Until You Came Along” and a non-album cover of Brian Wilson‘s “Love And Mercy.” Crass.
You’d be far better off going out and just picking up Weird Tales. It’s an underrated gem of late-90s sad bastard music. You know an album is solid when Jeff Tweedy‘s contributions are not even the best songs—despite the fact that it contains one of Tweedy’s most perfect songs, “Please Tell My Brother.”
If you end up loving Weird Tales as much as you should, you can go back and get Down by the Old Mainstream, and then you’ll have everything on this silly new comp.
Not included in this collection: anything from their debut pre-Tweedy covers EP, On Golden Smog, or anything from their two most recent releases on Lost Highway (Another Fine Day and the Blood on the Slacks EP). We all know it’s work to license recordings that are owned by other labels, but come on, Rhino, do your job.
I didn’t get an advance of this so I can’t say for sure whether the supposedly “unreleased” Brian Wilson cover is the same live version that was released as a b-side to the “Until You Came Along” single. If so, I can vouch that it’s great. [Update: I’ve since been told that it’s “a studio version that Dan & Gary spruced up about 3 months ago for the collection by adding harmony vocals in the middle section of the song.” -ed.] The other b-side on that single was an awesome live Gary Louris duet with Rosanne Cash on her “Seven Year Ache.” But that rarity is not included in this collection. Nor are the two b-sides of the “Keys” single: a live version of “Radio King” and a cover Neil Young‘s “On The Beach.”
For anyone unfamiliar with the group, Golden Smog is made up of Kraig Johnson (Run Westy Run), Dan Murphy (Soul Asylum), Gary Louris (Jayhawks), Marc Perlman (Jayhawks), Jeff Tweedy (Wilco), and various drummers including Noah Levy (Honeydogs) and Jody fucking Stephens (Big Star).
STAY GOLDEN, SMOG: THE BEST OF GOLDEN SMOG Track Listing:
1. “Until You Came Along” (Gary Louris)
2. “Looking Forward To Seeing You” (Kraig Johnson)
3. ” Ill Fated” (Dan Murphy)
4. “Lost Love” (Jeff Tweedy)
5. “Jennifer Save Me” (Kraig Johnson, Gary Louris)
6. “Making Waves” (Kraig Johnson)
7. “Glad & Sorry” ( Ronnie Lane of the Faces)
8. “V” (Kraig Johnson / Gary Louris)
9. “To Call My Own” (Dan Murphy)
10. “Pecan Pie” (Jeff Tweedy)
11. “Won’t Be Coming Home” (Gary Louris / Mark Olson)
12. “Red Headed Stepchild’ (Dan Murphy / Marc Perlman)
13. “He’s A Dick” (Kraig Johnson)
14. “Radio King” (Gary Louris / Jeff Tweedy)
15. “Please Tell My Brother” (Jeff Tweedy)
16. “If I Only Had A Car” (Kraig Johnson, Gary Louris)
17. “Until You Came Along” (1997 version) – Bonus Track (Gary Louris)
18. “Love And Mercy” – Bonus Track (Brian Wilson)