Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Dream Syndicate - the days of wine and roses (1982)

The Dream Syndicate were arguably the quintessential Paisley-Underground band. You could say that all they did was fuse acid-rock with the decadent rock of Lou Reed, but that wouldn't do them justice. The Days Of Wine And Roses contained at least 5 masterpieces and the common ground between them was how the guitars of Steve Wynn and Karl Precoda combined to present fatalist tones and fitful atmospheres.

"Tell Me When It's Over" is a timeless ballad of rare elegance, somewhere between acid-rock and dream-pop (clearly Mazzy Star have listened a lot to this). A truly poetical guitar-part exalts the raga-rock litany "Halloween". The interplay between the 2 guitars in "When You Smile" is once again chilling; one guitar indulging in a drugged dirge, while the other hisses in unsettling distortions. The anemic ballad "Too Little Too Late" (modelled after the Velvet Underground's "New Age") is, again, elevated by the acid guitars. The anthemic rocker "Days Of Wine And Roses" is infused with a monolithic jam that reminds of the Chocolate Watchband's supersonic boogie "Let's Talk About Girls".

The rest of the album is not so good, but still exhibits a vast knowledge of the history of rock music. The problem is that it doesn't always transcends it's roots. Yet the punk blues "Definitely Clean" (somewhere between the Gun Club and Lou Reed), the 60's garage "That's What You Always Say" (nodding to the Blues Magoos) and the orgiastic blues-shuffle "Then She Remembers" (a la Rolling Stones and the Velvet Underground) complement the album nicely.

In general, the method is to take the fatalist tone of, say, Bob Dylan or Neil Young, the decadent spirit of Lou Reed, and infuse it with the frenetic rock'n'roll of 60's garage, acid-rock, the post-acid guitars of Television, and voila, you get a record that covers the transition from the hippy culture of the 60's, to the urban neurosis of the 70's, through the industrial angst of the 80's. Get it here.