12 O'Clock Track: "That's What You Always Say," a visceral early moment from LA's Dream Syndicate | Bleader

12 O'Clock Track: "That's What You Always Say," a visceral early moment from LA's Dream Syndicate

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Few rock albums have retained a place in my heart and head like The Days of Wine and Roses, the 1982 debut album by LA's Dream Syndicate. At the time the band was lumped in with other players from the city's Paisley Underground scene, a neopsychedelic movement that produced the Bangles, the Three O'Clock, Long Ryders, Rain Parade, and Green on Red—but that record, which borrowed more from the Velvet Underground than any flower power combo, didn't exactly fit the mold (its name was taken from the mighty drone project of composer La Monte Young, which included future Velvets member John Cale).

The furious lead guitar of Karl Precoda went well beyond simple psychedelic tricks; he unleashed an unholy scree that connected the feedback-drenched workouts of the Velvets to the harrowing noise scapes of early Sonic Youth. The Dream Syndicate track "When You Smile" almost sounds like it could have fit on Bad Moon Rising. Next Tuesday Omnivore Recordings is reissuing The Day Before Wine and Roses, a live set recorded at the studios of the LA noncommercial radio station KPFK on September 5, 1982, a few weeks before the band entered the studio with producer Chris D. of the Flesheaters to make their debut for Ruby Records. It was released a little over a month later. The live set was previously released in 1995 by the Chicago indie Atavistic, but it's been out of print for years. The album includes a few tracks that would end up on the debut, like an early version of "John Coltrane Stereo Blues," a jam that would turn up on the band's second album, Medicine Show, in 1984, as well as some burning covers, including Buffalo Springfield's "Mr. Soul," Bob Dylan's "Outlaw Blues," and Donovan's "Season of the Witch." The performances are decidedly loose—apparently some 200 fans and friends crammed into the studio to watch, including members of R.E.M., the Bangles, and Green on Red—but there's no missing the ferocity of Precoda's lines, the loping, hypnotic grooves meted out by drummer Dennis Duck (a charter member of Los Angeles Free Music Society) and bassist Kendra Smith (who went on to form Opal with Rain Parade's David Roback, which created the template for Mazzy Star), or the ranted vocals and determined guitar strumming of Steve Wynn. It's no match for the real album, but if you haven't fallen into this exquisite hole yet . . . well, what are you waiting for? After the jump you can check out the classic "That's What You Always Say."

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