Paisley Underground bands frequently shared bills, socialized and collaborated. Members of Rain Parade, The Bangles, The Dream Syndicate and The Three O'Clock joined together to form Rainy Day, releasing an eponymous album of cover versions of songs by The Velvet Underground, Buffalo Springfield, Bob Dylan, The Beach Boys, Big Star, Jimi Hendrix, and The Who. As "Danny and Dusty," Steve Wynn of The Dream Syndicate and Dan Stuart of Green on Red made the album The Lost Weekend (A&M, 1985) backed by members of each band along with most of The Long Ryders. Clay Allison was an offshoot band composed of David Roback and Will Glenn (Rain Parade), Kendra Smith (The Dream Syndicate), Sylvia Juncosa (Leaving Trains) and Keith Mitchell (Monitor).
Todays band was associated with the Paisley Underground music movement; of the bands in that movement, according to the Los Angeles Times, it "rocked with the highest degree of unbridled passion and conviction". Though never commercially successful it met with considerable acclaim, especially for the songwriting and guitarplaying. . . ....N'Joy
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While attending the University of California, Davis, Steve Wynn and Kendra Smith played together (with future True West members Russ Tolman and Gavin Blair) in a band called the Suspects, the first 'New-Wave'-influenced band in the Davis music scene. After he moved back to Los Angeles, Wynn recorded a single called "15 Minutes" as his intended farewell to music. But while rehearsing in a band called Goat Deity (with future Wednesday Week sisters Kelly and Kristi Callan), Wynn met Karl Precoda, who had answered an ad for a bass player, and the two joined to form a new group, with Precoda switching to guitar. Smith came to play bass and brought in drummer Dennis Duck (Mehaffey), who had played in the locally successful Pasadena-based band Human Hands. Duck suggested the name "The Dream Syndicate" in reference to Tony Conrad's early 1960s New York experimental ensemble (better known as the Theater of Eternal Music), whose members included John Cale.
Dream Syndicate are at the foundation of contemporary alternative music simply because at the time when most bands were experimenting with new technology, the Syndicate deigned to bring back the guitar. Fronted by Steve Wynn (b. Feb. 21, 1960) and including Karl Precoda (guitar), Dennis Duck (drums), and Kendra Smith (bass), the band formed in Los Angeles after Smith and Wynn had relocated there from Davis, CA. They debuted with a self-titled, unbelievably Velvet Underground-like EP on Wynn's own Down There label. It was shortly off to Ruby/Slash for Days of Wine and Roses, the most lauded record on the college charts that year. The record has been cited as influential from artists as diverse as Kurt Cobain to the Black Crowes' Chris Robinson. Live, they had developed into an assaultive guitar band prone to jamming, which helped earn them the tag as leaders of L.A.'s paisley underground movement.
The band was signed to Slash Records, whose subsidiary Ruby Records released its debut and by far best-known album, The Days of Wine and Roses, in 1982. The next year saw the UK (Rough Trade Records) release of the album's lead track, "Tell Me When It's Over," as the A-side of an EP which also included a live cover of Neil Young's "Mr. Soul." Days of Wine and Roses "sent shockwaves through the American underground in the early 1980s", but MTV favored a different kind of music. Kendra Smith left the band and joined David Roback, formerly of the band Rain Parade, to form Opal. She was replaced in the Dream Syndicate by David Provost.
The Medicine Show was recorded in 1984 in San Francisco with producer Sandy Pearlman. It was met with mixed response by the college crowd. By this time, Smith had left the band and was replaced by Dave Provost on bass and Tom Zvoncheck on keyboards. Wynn took his cues from Neil Young & Crazy Horse on the record rather than Lou Reed (who was considered a preferable source at the time), and the rootsier sound caused a backlash with the fan base. The commercial failure of the album had contributed towards the group's temporary breakup. They opened tours for R.E.M. and U2 and released the 5-song EP This Is Not the New Dream Syndicate Album - Live (1984), the last record to feature Karl Precoda on guitar (who soon after left to pursue a career in screenwriting) and the first appearance of bassist Mark Walton. The band left A&M after the label rejected its demo for "Slide Away", later released on the semi-official It's Too Late to Stop Now.
In 1985, Wynn and Dan Stuart of Green on Red wrote 10 songs together which were recorded with Dennis Duck, among others, and released by A&M as Danny and Dusty: The Lost Weekend.
After a brief hiatus and, in the words of one reviewer, having taken "a trip through the major-label meat grinder", Wynn, Duck and Walton joined with Paul B. Cutler, who had produced the group's first EP and played guitar in the proto-Goth 45 Grave, to form the final version of The Dream Syndicate. They recorded two more studio albums, Out of the Grey (1986), produced by Cutler, and Ghost Stories (1988), produced by Elliot Mazer. A live album, Live at Raji's, was recorded in 1988 (also by Mazer) before Ghost Stories but released afterward. The band ceased to exist in 1989.
Posthumous releases include 3½; The Lost Tapes 1985–1988, a collection of unreleased studio sessions, and The Day Before Wine and Roses, a live radio performance recorded just prior to the release of the band's first album. Wynn has since recorded albums as a leader and with Gutterball (featuring the House of Freaks and Silo Bob Rupe) and is continuously collaborating with other musicians. His 1996 solo record had him backed by the Boston band Come. Smith went on to work in Opal with David Roback, a prototype version of his Mazzy Star, and has since recorded solo albums as well.
After a long hiatus from music, Karl Precoda reappeared in 1997 fronting the Last Days of May, a neo-psychedelic instrumental trio. Duck continued to work with Wynn as a touring drummer and bassist Mark Walton played with the Continental Drifters. A documentary of Dream Syndicate's last tour, Weathered and Torn, has been released on DVD. The reformed band (Wynn, Walton, Duck and Jason Victor, Wynn's longtime lead guitarist in the Miracle 3) played again on September 21, 2012, at Festival BAM, in Barcelona and has continued with further limited performances in 2012 and 2013.[
In December 2013, The Dream Syndicate played two nights with three other reunited Paisley Underground bands — The Bangles, The Three O'Clock, and Rain Parade — at The Fillmore in San Francisco (Dec. 5) and The Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles (Dec. 6 benefit concert).
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On the one hand, where the Dream Syndicate came from was so obvious that it almost hurt. The Velvet Underground was a clear touchstone (if not quite the original LaMonte Young ensemble the band name referred to), as were the Doors, the Byrds, and any number of blues and country traditions and more. Had they been around in the late '60s, one might have wondered whether they would have garnered much attention in comparison. But the early '80s was the band's time and place, and their fusions of all the above and more via punk-inspired energy achieved its own level of deserved attention. Capturing the original killer Wynn/Precoda/Smith/Duck lineup performing with inspiration throughout, The Days of Wine and Roses trumps the "paisley underground" tag the band was saddled with by being a great rock record, full on. While Wynn received the lion's share of attention thanks to his ghost-of-Lou Reed vocals and frontman status, arguably it's Precoda who is the real reason to listen in. Both his rave-ups and gentler shadings are phenomenal, as a random listen of songs like "Definitely Clean" and the sweet, Smith-sung "Too Little, Too Late" show. The Smith/Duck rhythm section grooves along fairly enough, at its best on the Krautrock-inspired chug of Precoda's composition "Halloween." Highlights include the romping "Then She Remembers," with a much more direct Wynn vocal that makes for good in-your-face fun, and the mid-tempo moodout of "When You Smile," Precoda's screeching feedback playing around the mix's edges. Concluding with the epochal title track, which builds to a frenetic climax not once but twice, The Days of Wine and Roses is a grand treat.
The Dream Syndicate - The Days Of Wine And Roses (flac 408mb)
01 Tell Me When It's Over 3:32
02 Definitely Clean 3:30
03 That's What You Always Say 3:13
04 Then She Remembers 4:07
05 Halloween 6:10
06 When You Smile 4:15
07 Until Lately 6:50
08 Too Little, Too Late (Voc.Kendra Smith) 3:27
09 The Days Of Wine And Roses 7:34
10 Sure Thing (Down There EP Version) 4:02
11 That's What You Always Say (Down There EP Version) 4:22
12 When You Smile (Down There EP Version) 3:10
13 Some Kinda Itch (Down There EP Version) 5:32
14 Too Little, Too Late (Rehearsal Version) 3:40
15 Definitely Clean (Rehearsal Version) 3:36
16 That's What You Always Say (15 Minutes) 3:57
17 Last Chance For You (15 Minutes) 2:39
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In 1982, the Dream Syndicate seemed to come out of nowhere (actually Davis, CA, but close enough) to become the most talked about band in underground rock with their debut album The Days of Wine and Roses, recorded for the tiny but prestigious Ruby Records label when the group was all of nine months old. After waves of positive press, A&M Records signed the Dream Syndicate and they went into the studio with producer Sandy Pearlman, who spent five months in the studio guiding the band through their second LP. Given their sudden rise to success, the Dream Syndicate probably would have dealt with a certain amount of critical backlash no matter how their sophomore effort turned out, but Medicine Show was greeted with openly hostile reviews, largely because it sounded practically nothing like the album that sent tongues wagging two years earlier. Where The Days of Wine and Roses was a raw but passionate fusion of Highway 61-era Bob Dylan and the Velvet Underground at their most primal, Medicine Show sounded big and polished, but also dusty and weathered, with the terse, nose-thumbing lyrics of the debut replaced with dark, complex narratives full of bad luck and bad blood backed with booming drums and roaring guitars that were significantly more rockist than what Steve Wynn and Karl Precoda brought to their earlier recordings. Viewed in the context of Wynn's career, Medicine Show marks the spot where the lyrical themes and musical approach of his later work would first come into focus, but it still doesn't bear much resemblance to what the Dream Syndicate would create on their subsequent albums in its grand, doomy tone and obsessive but curiously unobtrusive production style. Medicine Show isn't a grand failure as its initial detractors claimed, but it isn't the triumph some revisionist fans imagine it to be, either; there are a few great songs scattered throughout (especially "Merrittville" and "Armed with an Empty Gun"), and once it works its way in, the 8:48 of "John Coltrane Stereo Blues" is as potent a guitar workout as anything this band would ever release. But in most respects, this finds Wynn and his bandmates reaching for something they couldn't quite grasp, and Tom Zvoncheck's keyboards, for all their drama, never really find their way into the music. Lots of bands let loose with a major-label budget for the first time have made lavish records that didn't quite work, but unlike most of them, Medicine Show doesn't sound like a grandiose waste of money. Instead, it's a widescreen guitar spectacle with the soul of a Jim Thompson paperback, and if it doesn't always work, enough of it does to make it worthy of serious reappraisal.
When "Tell Me When It's Over" begins with a solo piano fanfare that lasts close to a minute-and-a-half, you know you're not dealing with an ordinary, live Dream Syndicate recording, and this longish EP, featuring five tunes from a July 1984 concert in Chicago, captured the band in a transitional period. The Dream Syndicate were touring in support of the album Medicine Show, and the performances reflect the dark but spacious mood of those sessions; Tom Zvoncheck, who played piano and organ on the album, tagged along for the tour and his contributions take up a lot of space in the arrangements of what had always been a guitar band, and hearing this edition of the group make their way through "Tell Me When It's Over" (the only song that didn't originate on Medicine Show) shows just how far they'd traveled stylistically in the three years they'd been together. Compared to The Day of Wine and Roses (a live album that documents a show The Dream Syndicate played the week their debut album was released), This Is Not the New Dream Syndicate Album sounds remarkably bigger, tighter, and more confident, but the guitar interplay between Steve Wynn and Karl Precoda lacks the tense spark that marked their best work, and while the band seems more comfortable with the Medicine Show songs than they did in the studio, they also seem to be searching for ways to make them sound as dark and wired as they did on plastic (and Wynn seems to have responded by having a few cocktails). After this tour was over, Precoda would leave The Dream Syndicate, A&M would part ways with the group, and Paul Cutler's guitar work would take the band in a different aural direction for their next album, Out of the Grey; This Is Not the New Dream Syndicate Album … Live catches them near the end of one road, and while they don't seem to be lost, they do seem ready to take the next exit.
The Dream Syndicate - Medicine Show (flac 526mb)
01 Still Holding On To You 3:40
02 Daddy's Girl 3:02
03 Burn 5:33
04 Armed With An Empty Gun 3:56
05 Bullet With My Name On It 6:20
06 The Medicine Show 6:29
07 John Coltrane Stereo Blues 8:47
08 Merrittville 7:20
Bonus (This is not the New Dream Syndicate Live Mini)
09 Tell Me When It's Over (Live) 5:18
10 Bullet With My Name On It (Live) 6:02
11 Armed With An Empty Gun (Live) 4:21
12 The Medicine Show (Live) 7:09
13 John Coltrane Stereo Blues (Live) 9:03
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Like nearly everything released that year, Out of the Grey suffered from a touch of the post-new wave flu. But "50 in a 25 Zone" has that old, bluesy Syndicate spirit, as does "Now I Ride Alone," and Steve Wynn is still an exceptional vocal stylist, bringing heart and meaning to every word he writes. Out of the Grey was released in 1986 as the first studio album after the band was dropped from A&M Records due to disappointing sales after the release of the 1984 album This Is Not the New Dream Syndicate Album......Live!. The band pondered its future and even retired temporarily, while lead singer and songwriter Steve Wynn made a record with Dan Stuart (as "Danny & Dusty").The duo's album, Lost Weekend (1985), was produced by Paul B. Cutler, who has also produced The Dream Syndicate's eponymous first EP (1982). Jamming with Cutler, a guitar player, rekindled the desire in Wynn to bring the The Dream Syndicate together again. The band reformed after some personnel changes, most notably the replacement of lead guitarist Karl Precoda by Cutler The band's sound changed also, to a "considerably more aggressive, but simultaneously country-inflected outlook." The "more mainstream" sound, however, did not lead to commercial success.
The response to the album from fans and critics was positive, and after its release the band toured Europe before going on its first American tour in two years. Right after the release of the record, when the band seemed to be "back on track", the label, Big Time Records, folded, to the band's detriment—it went back into inactivity and Wynn played acoustic solo dates for a while.
The Dream Syndicate - Out Of The Grey ( flac 454mb)
01 Out Of The Grey 4:51
02 Forest For The Trees 4:38
03 50 In A 25 Zone 4:44
04 Boston 5:32
05 Blood Money 4:31
06 Slide Away 3:33
07 Dying Embers 4:57
08 Now I Ride Alone 4:32
09 Drinking Problem 3:32
10 Dancing Blind 4:47
11 You Can't Forget 2:47
12 Let It Rain 3:57
13 Cinnamon Girl 3:02
14 Ballad Of Dwight Frye 5:43
15 Shake Your Hips 0:53
16 I Won't Forget 2:34
17 The Lonely Bull 1:58
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