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The Complete United Artist Singles

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Review

Jay & the Americans seem to have lost out in the reputation sweepstakes to their contemporaries the Four Seasons, but as this triple-CD collection amply demonstrates, they were a prodigiously talented group. The 66 single sides here were recorded across a decade that overlapped with the British Invasion, folk-rock, the psychedelic era, and the birth of heavy metal, acid rock, etc. And through it all, the music of Jay & the Americans remained amazingly consistent, five phenomenal voices soaring to some of the most beautiful melodies of their era. The dimensions of the set and its price may seem like overkill, and for casual fans it probably is -- they would do better to grab the hits collection Come a Little Bit Closer: The Best of Jay & the Americans. But for those with the inclination to go deeper, this set offers almost three solid hours of enjoyment. The quality of the singing, led first by Jay Traynor and then Jay Black, works its spell, along with the killer song selection: around the familiar hits ("She Cried," "Come a Little Bit Closer," etc.) are a large selection of low- (and non-) charting gems that are worth hearing, which dedicated fans of the group will welcome, especially in their original mono mixes. The selection also provides a close look at the tightrope that this group walked across the '60s: from Drifters-style pop-R&B at the start of the decade, they plunged into the British Invasion era with some fine but heavily retro-pop-based rock & roll ("Goodbye Boys Goodbye") before grabbing a chunk of the Top Ten with "Come a Little Bit Closer" and "Cara Mia," never veering too far from the pop side of R&B or the Broadway and European pop traditions that allowed the members (especially Jay Black) to push their pipes in the best faux-operatic tradition. Even when they tried for a more contemporary sound, as on the guitar- and rhythm-heavy "Girl" and "Sunday and Me," the singing style still seemed a half-decade out of date, which is fine, as it fits with everything else here. The group would push the envelope in those two directions, updating their repertory while keeping an older-style declamatory vocal delivery, and yield a major hit just often enough to keep going for most of the decade; ironically, the material from the psychedelic era, when their string finally runs out, yields some of the group's most interesting experiments, including "Shanghai Noodle Factory," "French Provincial," and "(We'll Meet In The) Yellow Forest," efforts at sunshine pop that almost remove the group from its moorings, but not quite. They find their collective "voice" again halfway through the last disc with "This Magic Moment," in a setting that's almost as much sunshine pop as doo wop, heralding a triumphant finale, closing out with Neil Diamond's "Solitary Man" in a rendition that is smoothly elegant (if not as moody as Diamond's own). The sound quality is generally excellent throughout, and the annotation is thorough. ~ Bruce Eder
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  1. # Track Artist Length
  2. 1 Tonight Jay & the Americans 2:27
  3. 2 The Other Girls Jay & the Americans 2:19
  4. 3 Dawning Jay & the Americans 2:21
  5. 4 She Cried Jay & the Americans 2:36
  6. 5 This Is It for Me Jay & the Americans 2:38
  7. 6 It's My Turn to Cry Jay & the Americans 2:42
  8. 7 Tomorrow Jay & the Americans 2:52
  9. 8 Yes Jay & the Americans 2:17
  10. 9 What's the Use Jay & the Americans 2:56
  11. 10 Strangers Tomorrow Jay & the Americans 2:18
  12. 11 Only in America Jay & the Americans 2:6
  13. 12 My Clair de Lune Jay & the Americans 2:37
  14. 13 Baby, That Is Rock & Roll Jay & the Americans 2:20
  15. 14 Come Dance with Me Jay & the Americans 2:22
  16. 15 Look in My Eyes Maria Jay & the Americans 2:21
  17. 16 To Wait for Love Jay & the Americans 2:11
  18. 17 Friday Jay & the Americans 3:0
  19. 18 Goodbye Boys Goodbye (Ciao Ragazzi Ciao) Jay & the Americans 1:59
  20. 19 Come a Little Bit Closer Jay & the Americans 2:45
  21. 20 Let's Lock the Door (And Throw Away the Key) Jay & the Americans 2:21
  22. 21 I'll Remember You Jay & the Americans 2:43
  23. 22 Think of the Good Times Jay & the Americans 2:32
  24. 23 If You Were Mine, Girl Jay & the Americans 2:14
  25. 1 When It's All Over Jay & the Americans 2:36
  26. 2 Cara, Mia Jay & the Americans 2:31
  27. 3 Some Enchanted Evening Jay & the Americans 2:13
  28. 4 Girl Jay & the Americans 2:7
  29. 5 Sunday and Me Jay & the Americans 2:24
  30. 6 Through This Doorway Jay & the Americans 2:25
  31. 7 Things Are Changing Jay & the Americans 2:49
  32. 8 Why Can't You Bring Me Home Jay & the Americans 2:28
  33. 9 Baby Stop Your Cryin' Jay & the Americans 2:31
  34. 10 Crying Jay & the Americans 2:36
  35. 11 I Don't Need a Friend Jay & the Americans 2:3
  36. 12 Livin' Above Your Head Jay & the Americans 2:37
  37. 13 Look at Me - What Do You See Jay & the Americans 2:23
  38. 14 Stop the Clock Jay & the Americans 2:44
  39. 15 Baby Come Home Jay & the Americans 2:5
  40. 16 (He's) Raining in My Sunshine Jay & the Americans 2:47
  41. 17 The Reason for Living (For You My Darling) Jay & the Americans 2:24
  42. 18 What Will My Mary Say Jay & the Americans 3:7
  43. 19 Return to Me Jay & the Americans 2:51
  44. 20 You Ain't as Hip as All That Baby Jay & the Americans 2:59
  45. 21 Nature Boy Jay & the Americans 2:38
  46. 1 (We'll Meet in The) Yellow Forest Jay & the Americans 2:12
  47. 2 Got Hung Up Along the Way Jay & the Americans 2:3
  48. 3 French Provincial Jay & the Americans 3:9
  49. 4 Shanghai Noodle Factory Jay & the Americans 2:33
  50. 5 No Other Love Jay & the Americans 2:27
  51. 6 No, I Don't Know Her Jay & the Americans 2:26
  52. 7 You Ain't Gonna Wake Up Cryin' Jay & the Americans 3:16
  53. 8 Gemini Jay & the Americans 2:36
  54. 9 Since I Don't Have You Jay & the Americans 3:29
  55. 10 This Magic Moment Jay & the Americans 2:54
  56. 11 When You Dance Jay & the Americans 2:50
  57. 12 Hushabye Jay & the Americans 2:58
  58. 13 Gypsy Woman Jay & the Americans 3:12
  59. 14 (I'd Kill) For the Love of a Lady Jay & the Americans 2:30
  60. 15 Learnin' How to Fly Jay & the Americans 2:54
  61. 16 Walkin' in the Rain Jay & the Americans 2:46
  62. 17 Capture the Moment Jay & the Americans 2:18
  63. 18 Do You Ever Think of Me? Jay & the Americans 2:31
  64. 19 Do I Love You? Jay & the Americans 2:20
  65. 20 Tricia (Tell Your Daddy) Jay & the Americans 2:54
  66. 21 There Goes My Baby Jay & the Americans 3:19
  67. 22 Solitary Man Jay & the Americans 3:2

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