Golden Smog

The key to this fourth and not-just-another-fine-but-finest CD yet by these Midwest rock Wilburys is its one faithfully rendered cover: "Strangers" by Dave Davies of the Kinks. Just as that song allowed brother Dave to provide a perfect counterpoint to Ray Davies' songs on Lola Versus the Powerman, Golden Smog is an alternate creative outlet for Gary Louris, Marc Perlman (Jayhawks), Kraig Johnson (Run Westy Run), Dan Murphy (Soul Asylum) and Jeff Tweedy (Wilco). With the pressure off, they all do some of their most comfortable and charming work, most of it in a pop-rock mode that draws from the vibes and musical values of the golden creative era when "Strangers" was first recorded. Lots of marquee tracks: the Cheap Trick meets Raspberries hard candy of "Corvette," the swirling, Lennon-esque psychedelia of "Beautiful Mind," Tweedy and Louris intertwining their falsettos on "Listen Joe," the resonance of the Kinks through "You Make It Easy" and the Brit bit echoing into American rock on the Tom Petty-ish "Cure for This." The 14 cool songs here, augmented by nifty instrumental touches (like the chiming George Harrison-style guitar break on "5-22-02") and delightful harmonies, would all do a permanent band proud, though it's the transitory nature of this gathering that makes Another Fine Day as lovably listenable as anything else the principals have done. Long may they run--every once in a while.
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Rob Patterson