The Dream Syndicate Play “Tell Me When It’s Over”

Listen to this track by first-tier Paisley Underground representatives The Dream Syndicate. It’s “Tell Me When It’s Over”, the opening cut as taken from their 1982 record Days of Wine and Roses, their debut. The song was released as a single in early, although in the UK and not in their native West Coast where they were critically acclaimed but not commercially viable, somehow.

The threads between what was happening on the West Coast, and with post-punk bands in New York and in the UK were intertwined thematically speaking by the beginning of the eighties. Yet in many ways, this song and the sound the band reached for in general represented a complete departure, too. Some of the influences that floated into their sound that couldn’t be found in scenes elsewhere at the time. It had to do with the kinds of crowds they played to on the scene as well, partial to jams that perhaps were outside of the standard post-punk wheelhouse in other quarters.

The question of mainstream appeal at the time was perhaps not applicable across the board in other respects as well. From  the early 1980s, The Dream Syndicate demonstrated a vital truth from which we’re still benefiting today; that pop music made by indie bands can’t be measured on a single historical line or any one set of musical influences.  Read more

The Long Ryders Play “Looking For Lewis And Clark”

the-long-ryders-state-of-our-unionListen to this track by Americana and alt-country rock outliers The Long Ryders. It’s “Looking For Lewis And Clark”, a high point in their 1985 album The State Of Our Union. That album had the band on a major label and seeking a wider audience for their unique brand of punked-up Americana tinged with the brown-sound Woodstock vibe of their influences.

In this, they were ahead of their time, anticipating the alt-country movement that would gain in popularity by the mid-nineties and a full decade after they’d laid this record down. Despite the musical wells they were drawing from that tied them to the songwriting traditions of the past and the sound they foresaw that we’d see as a movement by the next decade, The Long Ryders had a lot to say about the political trajectory of America in the present. They weren’t kidding around with that album title.

There’s a real sense of betrayal to be found on this album and certainly on this song, with the direction of the American narrative taking a turn for the worst. We can all relate to that by now. But this was a particularly heinous thing to this particular band of musicians and songwriters given how important mythic visions of America were to them.

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The Bangles Perform ‘In Your Room’

Listen to this track by one-time Paisley Underground darlings and former Egyptian-walkers The Bangles.  It’s their 1988 single ‘In Your Room’ as  taken from their EverythingLP.  This song features the sultry vocals from lead guitarist and singer Susannah Hoffs, the ah-ah backing vocals from drummer Vicki Peterson, rhythm guitarist Debbi Peterson, and bassist Michael Steele, and the raga-esque strings on the outro that tie the band’s sound to the mid-to-late 60s more so than the late 80s.

The Bangles, once known simply as the Bangs, and earlier as the Colours,  flourished in the early 80s firstly on the L.A based Paisley Underground scene.  That scene was loosely centered around guitar based power pop and neo-psychedelia as inspired by the 60s British Invasion sound, along with bands like the Three O’Clock, The Rain Parade, and the Dream Syndicate.   But, once the 80s began in earnest, they became something of a hit machine, initially with “Going Down to Liverpool”, and then with “Manic Monday” (written by Prince), and the aforementioned ‘Walk Like An Egyptian”.

Despite the production on their albums which place them definitively in the 80s, the band still had roots in classic 60s guitar rock, which this track demonstrates most effectively.  The band had showed their colours previously with a hard edged take on Simon & Garfunkel’s “Hazy Shade of Winter”, which sort of brought their Paisley Underground ethic into the mainstream.

With that earlier scene, it was clear that bands involved in it were looking to get back to basics.  And even if the Bangles were known as pop writers that were very much a part of 80s mainstream chart acts, by the Everything album, and their biggest hit “Eternal Flame”, it was clear that their hearts were more in 1968  than 1988, although they somehow manage to embody the best of both eras.

Despite their success,  the band broke up the following year, with each member taking on solo projects.  Hoffs, among other things, played with Matthew Sweet on a collection of 60s cover albums along with solo albums of her own.  And Vicki Peterson performed in a new band, the Continental Drifters as well as with the Go-Gos, a band after the Bangles own hearts, as a replacement member for keyboardist Charlotte Caffrey.   Yet, they also managed to reunite by 2000, putting out a comeback record in 2003, Doll’s Revolution, with a cover version of Elvis Costello’s “Tear Off Your Own Head (A Doll’s Revolution)” providing the basis for the title.

For more information about the Bangles, check out the Bangles official site.