2 LP's on 1 CD: JAY & THE AMERICANS (1965)/SUNDAY & ME (1966).
Jay & The Americans includes: John "Jay" Traynor, Donald Fagen (vocals, keyboards); Walter Becker (guitar).
This is a good idea for a reissue that has worked out even better. Although they're mostly remembered today for their hit singles, Jay & the Americans were an early- to mid-'60s outfit brimming over with talent, and they made a string of delightful if not exactly profound albums that hold up surprisingly well some 40 years later. Jay and the Americans and Sunday and Me were two of them, from 1965 and 1966, respectively. In addition to the hit singles "Cara Mia" and "Only in America," about half of Jay and the Americans plays like a lost Phil Spector production, and the rest is a leaner brand of pop/rock. Sunday and Me isn't quite as distinctive, but in addition to its title song it offers the folk-rock-influenced "Why Can't You Bring Me Home" (which could have been a great song for Johnny Rivers to cover); the towering vocal showcase "Maria"; a pair of pleasing group originals, "Baby Stop Your Cryin'" and the ebullient "She's the Girl (That's Messin' Up My Mind)"; one achingly lyrical folk revival cover ("Chilly Winds"); and the group's pleasingly embellished, spirited, and soulful rendition of the Rascals hit "Good Lovin'." The digital mastering is a special treat, as neither of these albums has ever appeared on CD in the United States, and most of what's here hasn't been in print since the mid- to late '60s. Also, the sound is impeccable and the packaging, in addition to re-creating the original artwork and notes, adds new biographical material (albeit principally from a British perspective, whence this CD comes). ~ Bruce Eder