THE GRAYS Ro Sham Bo (1994) + The Grays Companion (1994) & Pre Sham Bo Gig (1993)

frontRo Sham Bo (1994)
A 5-Star Pop Record

The Grays were a one time union of some really, really good indie pop guys, including Jason Falkner (Three O’Clock, Jellyfish) and Jon Brion (Aimee Mann, the eels and a million other credits). While it’s tempting to call Ro Sham Bo, their one album, Beatle-esque, it actually leans more towards a muscular Badfinger, alongside decades of other pop models, all adding elements to the influence sheet. The cascading guitars, glorious harmonies and Indian accents leave no doubt from where all 60’s pop stems, however, and The Grays pull off The Beatles’ four-man pop group blueprint with great enthusiasm. Two or three listens and the melodies and invention take hold. Great execution, plenty of chops and not too clever for their own good. Just listen to the slow build of “Everybody’s World” to hear how many ideas these guys have at their disposal, effortlessly crafting some of the more elevated pop of the 90s/00s. For the straight up stuff, “Same Thing” is the purest pop since Teenage Fanclub. Jack White & Brendan Benson’s The Raconteurs were a similar concept, but The Grays had already done it better… a decade earlier. Get this pop great at Amazon, HERE. There’s some Jon Brion in the archives, HERE (check out his essential piano rendition of Cheap Trick’s “Voices”). Also, see our “x3″ Jellyfish posts (w/ demos & instrumentals), for Spilt Milk and Bellybutton, HERE.

Very Best Years
Everybody’s
World

Same Thing

Friend Of Mine

Is It Now Yet

Oh Well Maybe

Nothing Between Us

Both Belong

Nothing

Not Long For This World

Spooky

All You Wanted

No One Can Hurt Me

BONUS #1: 
The Grays CompanionCompanion
Rare Extras

When we first posted The Grays (way back in 2007), we linked to our blog pals, Pop Fair (HERE), to direct you to their excellent “companion” collection of The Grays studio tracks and radio shows. Sadly, PF’s links are now long gone, so we’re offering that 10-song collection of essential extras here. The tunes are mostly covers, while the acoustic live tracks are culled from a 1994 KFOG appearance. Thanks to Jay Strange, over at Art Into Dust (HERE), for supplying us with the original 26 minute KFOG tapes, featuring some fun interview segments with the band.

Complicated (3:13) – Rolling Stones cover
He’s Frank (2:49) – Monochrome Set cover
Blessed (4:27) – Simon & Garfunkel cover
Both Sides Now (2:53) – Joni Mitchell cover
Oh Nevermind (3:44)
Outdoor Miner (2:25) – Wire cover
Very Best Years (acoustic) (3:28)
Same Thing (acoustic) (3:42)
Nothing (acoustic) (3:05)
Both Belong (acoustic) (4:20)
ADDED
Acoustic On KFOG 1, 1994 (13:49)
Acoustic On KFOG 2, 1994 (12:38)

BONUS #2:
FrontPre Sham Bo Gig (1993)
Even Rarer Live Tapes

Big thanks again to Jay Strange (read his Jason Falkner/Grays examination, HERE) for kindly sending us this cool live show, thought to be from 1993. If you’re already a fan, you know how hard it is to come by live stuff from these guys, and while it’s not studio perfect, it’s a fun listen and a far cry from those grainy YouTube vids and unlistenable CBGB’s gig that are floating around the intertubes. Includes material not found on the LP. Thanks again for the share, Jay.

Everybody’s World (7:13)
Same Thing (4:03)
Spooky (5:17)
Oh Nevermind (3:19)
Blessed (4:52)
Strings (3:18)
Both Belong (4:31)
I Go Astray (4:28)
All You Wanted (4:20)
No One Can Hurt Me (10:11)

26 Comments

  • 1
    Anonymous
    May 13, 2007 - 15:19 | Permalink

    for myself the Grays album is the benchmark album of the early nineties..sort of like a grown up serious version of Jellyfish…i have always loved this album and always will…its a shame that this was all that they did…brion and falkner were a marridge made in hell right from the get go and its a wonder they got as far as they did…brion leaving halfway through the tour to support the album…when they recorded Ro Sham Bo..they also recorded half a dozen covers…a couple of which turned up on b-sides and the rest have been floating round collectors circles for many years.
    all the best
    Mick Dillingham

  • 2
    Martin
    May 14, 2007 - 19:46 | Permalink

    Thank you very much for this album. Not easy to come by. I just did a little piece on the new Jason Falkner (which is very good) and someone pointed me here. Great website you have here btw!

  • 3
    bil
    November 5, 2007 - 20:56 | Permalink

    Many thanks for the post, I'm a big fan of Jason Falkner/Jellyfish, looking forward to hearing this.

  • 4
    ge
    November 14, 2007 - 12:04 | Permalink

    Well we am loading up now, given descrip…: BIG 'Ham-finger' fan here [+ does any pop group have better-more exciting background vox??]

    I feel obliged to steer luvers of such sounds to the US '70s group Blue Ash–here's their mice-pace: http://www.myspace.com/officialblueash
    Dig the greeting song Abracadabra…whew!

    [Good ol' Phonograph Record Magazine, the freebie that championed like fans more'n crits the likes of 70s redeemers Big Star, Blue Ash, Stories, Roxy, etc…]

    and if you havent heard THE FLAME, they = a long-ago Brit/S African band that's mo' accurately described as Badfingery than Beatle-esque

  • 5
    tony O
    November 11, 2009 - 02:01 | Permalink

    This is a fantastic album. Can't say enough great things about it. The guitar tones are awesome…
    There is the one video for 'Very Best Years' somewhere online…Also some great live clips from some club in Cleveland I think. Try youtube…They should be there…

    Thanks for posting. It's nice to see it re-upped.

  • 6
    Anonymous
    November 24, 2009 - 19:46 | Permalink

    Really fantastic stuff. Many thanks.

  • 7
    Glenn
    December 1, 2009 - 12:54 | Permalink

    Beatlesque? Badfinger-like? Sign me up. Thanks

  • 8
    W
    April 18, 2011 - 11:30 | Permalink

    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    Find it HERE.
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .

  • 9
    Newman
    January 16, 2013 - 12:37 | Permalink

    A great big thank you to the Wormhole Commander! I have and have enjoyed Ro Sham Bo for years. The treat here is the Live stuff, never even knew this was around. I’m excited to hear it and I will leave you with this, Too bad these guys couldn’t have hung around a bit longer I for one place them in high regard as far as the Power Pop genre goes! Thanks again Willard.

    Love
    Newman

  • 11
    January 16, 2013 - 15:19 | Permalink

    A generous treasure trove – thank you, sir!

  • 12
    Francis
    January 16, 2013 - 16:00 | Permalink

    I snagged a used copy of Ro Sham Bo way back when, pretty much as soon as I learned of its existence. But I didn’t know about any of this other terrific stuff. Thanks!

  • 13
    Willard
    January 16, 2013 - 17:00 | Permalink

    That was kinda my experience, too. Pop Fair linked to us back in the day and that’s how I found out about the “companion” tracks, and Jay Strange mentioned the live show in their comment section. I contacted him just a few days ago and he kindly sent the live stuff over to us for posting. Blogs are great, aren’t they?

  • 14
    TheWalkingDeadMan
    January 16, 2013 - 17:45 | Permalink

    Dear Lord I love these songs. Jason Falkner could probably make a fart sound “beatlesque” or “badfingerish”. I still think the Jellyfish were probably one song or break away from being huuuuggggge!!

    Thanks Williard for the groovy rare live and xtra traks…..

  • 15
    Indiana Scott
    January 16, 2013 - 19:56 | Permalink

    I have been a big Jellyfish fan since the MTV salad days of the early-90s. To finally find these has to be the music highlight of 2013, since I am not sure if Cheap Trick will release a new one. Thanks W!

  • 16
    ekko
    January 18, 2013 - 17:26 | Permalink

    hi willard.
    thanks for giving attention to one of jason falkner’s projects.
    one of the greatest composers of the last two decades.
    did you know about the jason falkner brendan benson collaboration.
    pre raconteurs!
    please do listen to brendan’s debut album “one mississippi”.
    released without jason falkner’s production and session work.
    but eventually released as a vinyl only named “the welfed boys demos”
    and later made available as a bonus on the
    re-release cd of “one mississippi”.
    it is great indeed!
    jason falkner is unrivalled still.
    check out his latest solo work and the
    two brilliant albums with anne soldaat from holland.
    you won’t be dissapointied
    thanks again for all the fantastic things you lend us.
    music is allmost everything we need.
    ekko from holland.

  • 17
    Willard
    January 18, 2013 - 20:05 | Permalink

    Thanks ekko. Yeah, I’m a One MIssissippi fan, but haven’t heard the demos. Thanks for the tip.

  • 18
    shmoopatties
    January 20, 2013 - 01:17 | Permalink

    ekko – thanks for the tip re Anne Soldaat. Big Falkner fan for a long time now…somehow missed this collaboration…bought DLs of both albums from Am a zon. Owned the Grays CD for eons. Got the Companion from Willard some time ago. Digging the live gig… Thanks!

    • 19
      Anonymous
      January 20, 2013 - 07:22 | Permalink

      hi shmoopatties.
      just to add to your listening experience;
      here’s two extensive interviews with jason falkner and anne soldaat.

      http://artintodust.blogspot.nl/search?q=anne+soldaat

      lots of daryll ann info too.
      scroll up / down for an indept look at recording these two albums.
      with some cool pictures of jason’s studio.
      ekko.

  • 20
    shmoopatties
    January 20, 2013 - 01:32 | Permalink

    Wait…I just noticed that the cover for ‘Companion’ is different from my cover in itunes… then bothered to read that I originally got it from Pop Fair (I’m pretty sure the Cap’n turned me onto that blog…I’ve got just about everything ever posted there since) and finally noticed that the entire KFOG has been added. I really should adjust the screening filter on my download-a-nator. DLing now. Thanks a second time…

  • 21
    jay
    January 21, 2013 - 18:36 | Permalink

    ekko the well fed boy stuff is only the demos…benson and falkner actually recorded the full album properly but after it was shelved virgin have since misplaced the mastertapes somewhere
    all the best

  • 22
    Mark
    January 25, 2013 - 16:20 | Permalink

    Really really good; why do they remind me so much of Toy Matinee (which is good in my book)?

  • 23
    July 4, 2013 - 04:01 | Permalink

    Cool stuff. When I was putting together the Grays Tales on my page a few months ago I saw mention of that early show and would love to hear it. I’m not that savvy with downloads n’ computer stuff. I can barely paste this link http://yerdoingreat.wordpress.com/2012/11/06/grays-tales-the-very-best-year-sorta/

  • 24
    Michael solof
    August 16, 2013 - 21:24 | Permalink

    Huge Grays fan! Could you please repost or send the Campanion and presham gig posts…would love these songs for my collection!
    Thanks!

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