A few days ago, my friend Steven Roback and I were playing a rock and roll
quiz game. He said, "Name five concerts that you wish you were at." I quickly
listed Woodstock, The Who at Fillmore East '68, Dylan at Royal Albert Hall, Fairport
Convention with Sandy and Richard
and then I stopped for a moment
Syndicate on KPFK Radio." Steven replied, "I was at the show, in fact the entire
Rain Parade was there, Green On Red, everybody was there." Wynn told me later
"Yeah, that's true. All the Bangles, I think even REM was there."
Playing their first show in January 1982, by September of that year-when this radio show was recorded-the band had quickly risen to the top of the heap of the Los Angeles music scene. Soon they would record and release
The Days Of Wine And Roses album.
For myself, living 3000 miles away on the other side of America, it wouldn't be until August of 1983 that I would first hear the strains of
Sure Thing and
Some Kinda Itch on
my local college radio station. But on first listen I was hooked. There was a power and
beauty to their work that was as much influenced by the free jazz of Ornette Coleman as the
Velvets and Crazy Horse. Karl Precoda would squeeze as much feedback out of his cheap Kay
guitars as possible, often leaving them in a heap by the side of the stage. When I later
asked Karl why he switched from Kays to a hollow body Gibson, he said, "Man, on that
first cross country tour we destroyed all of the Kays. They couldn't handle it."
Let's look at the nine songs bottled inside of this five-inch silver disc. Among the highlights are
Some Kinda Itch which is transformed from a fast frenzied jam
into a slow, perverse epic of music seduction. Followed by a cover of Buffalo
Mr. Soul and into a blistering
Thing-the first three songs produce a unique metal orgasm between the band and the
listener. But just when you thought the climax was over, you get Dylan's
Outlaw Blues and
an early skeletal version of
John Coltrane Stereo Blues called
JCSB has often been described as a
Doors-like jam. Well, it's time to tell you that the song was not inspired by the Doors at
all, but by their Elektra label mates, The Butterfield Blues Band. I discovered this while
listening to the title track of Butterfield's classic
East/West album. Wynn confirm
this: "That's right. I was taking acid and playing that song over and over, then I
started working on my song." While
a masterwork in its own right,
Open Hour owes a courtesy thanks to Mike Bloomfield.
You Smile has always been a wonderful thing-like Van Morrison says on
Said, "I'm in heaven when you smile." So am I when listening to this version.
Season Of The Witch pumps your ears for all they're worth before the final
The Days Of Wine And Roses. Here the band pulls out all the stops,
playing together with all the finesse and delicate balance of a jazz combo.
If asked what appealed to me most about the Dream Syndicate when I heard them, I would have to say-most of all-it was contemporary. Here and now. It was music made by my peers. As I write this, I'm two weeks away from the end of being a "twenty-something." In my teens I worshiped at the temple of The Who, Led Zep, Cream, etc. Those were not real people-they were fantasies. The Dream Syndicate was real. You could track them down. Talk to them before and after the show. Meet them for a beer. The music on this CD stands like a statue, tall and proud. A monument of another time, another place. This is/was the music of my generation. For years, I wished I was at this show. With the miracle of modern technology, now I'm there.
March 26, 1994
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