Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Two Lead Singers Are Better Than One

The Jayhawks @ The Greene Space

Two lead singers, singing each song simultaneously is a rarity in music.  The first groups that come to mind were duos in the 1960’s.  Do duos count?  Chad and Jeremy and Peter and Gordon.  The Smothers Brothers also sang together, but took solos.  Squeeze has a few songs that Glen and Chris took leads together such as Take Me I’m Yours.  I don’t remember ever seeing a whole show where two lead singers sang every song in the set. 

Monday night’s Jayhawks performance at the Greene Space had me mesmerized.  Gary Louris and Mark Olson sounded like one.  It wasn’t that they weren’t harmonizing or singing different notes at times, while singing the same lyrics.  It just struck me that they sounded like a single unit.  The drummer, Tim O’Reagan and keyboard player, Karen Grotberg both contributed background vocals. Bassist Marc Perlman did not. 

The intimate show was recorded for a future broadcast for Soundcheck airing on Sept 30th.  They opened the show with She Walks in So Many Ways.  I’ve been hearing the track on WEHM and love it.  It’s from the new album Mockingbird Time which is out this week.  Jayhawks and Mockingbirds are a good combo.  The album is the first full-length studio album featuring Gary and Mark (founding members of the group) since the wonderful 1995 release, Tomorrow the Green Grass. The duo wrote all the songs on the album. 

When asked about the writing process, Gary said it was just the two of them.  Band members add to the recording, but the two are the writers.  Both Gary and Mark said they still write a whole album with a theme, the way they always have.  Mockingbird follows a biographical journey of the band and their lives.  They still spend time on sequencing, even in this age of pick and choose tracks. 

Closer To Your Side brought thoughts of those duos: Peter and Gordon and Chad and Jeremy. The writing is more mature, but it follows in the tradition of great hooks and melodies.

Mark played acoustic guitar and Gary electric.  Both have a great sound to their playing.  The night would not have been complete without the “hit” (or nuggets as Gary referred to their more familiar songs) Blue.  It’s a classic.  One of my favorite covers of all time is their version of Bad Time.  They did not perform it, which was to be expected in 50 minute set.

It’s great to have Mark, Gary and their songwriting back.

Of Note:
Rolling Stone is streaming the new record.  

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