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The Dream Syndicate-The Days of Wine and Roses (Omnivore Recordings)

Album cover for The Days of Wine and Roses by The Dream Syndicate
10 May 2015

Omnivore has done the music world a great service bringing this classic 1982 album back into print. For those of us who were there when this first came out, it was nothing short of revelatory. There are people who can define the exact moment, probably, but I am not one of them. My music collector psychosis never extended that far, but I snapped up the vinyl the week it came out and played the crap out of it going forward. And you know, that classic guitar, bass, drums sound never goes out of style when it’s played this well. Listening to Steve Wynn riffing off the great Karl Precoda is fresh and amazing every time I hear it. It’s the Velvets done up with razor blades, the excitement amped up by the obvious punk influences that carry through the entire recording.

“Tell Me When It’s Over” has that stunning, slow Velvets thing going for it, with Steve channeling Lou Reed as only he can do. “Definitely Clean” puts it to 11, while my favorite “That’s What You Always Say” has that cool bass (go Kendra!) backed by the solid drumming of Dennis Duck and then of course there are the guitars, which just transform this tune into the classic it is. It is head-bobbing music of the best sort, and I defy you to shrug off that lyric ‘stories and words are here and gone’, it’s an impossible task! “Then She Remembers” is high octane and laced with punk energy, while “Halloween” is a menacing tune some people play every October 31st, with its beautiful guitar interplay and deceptively simple bass anchoring it. It is instantly memorable and indelible. I love the way it is pared back to a beautiful guitar line at the three minute mark and then is cranked up again. “Two steps forward”, indeed.

“When You Smile” is another favorite of mine, opening with feedback and sliding back to simply strummed guitar, which very slowly builds in intensity until the rest of the band kicks in. From that point forward, it never lets up and listeners are treated with some fab guitar work from Karl’s snarling guitar. “Until Lately” displays one of the band’s vaunted trademarks, their ability to slip between a slow, simmering stew and feedback-laced, fast moving sonics. “Too Little, Too Late” is sung by Kendra Smith and is a blueprint for her later work with Opal. “The Days of Wine and Roses” is a feedback fest from top to bottom.

The album is remastered, expanded with 6 rarities, and contains liner notes from the band’s peers, including members of Rain Parade, The Long Ryders, and Green on Red. Of the rarities, I quite enjoy “A Reason (Rehearsal Recording)” and hearing Kendra play Medicine Show songs, “Still Holding On To You” and “Armed With an Empty Gun”. The latter song is especially cool, though it’s an obvious rehearsal session with muffled vocals. From start to finish, this is essential release for old fans and for people wondering what all the music hype was about. Now you will understand why after checking this out. Don’t miss it on June 16th.