Liner notes to The Day Before Wine And Roses by Pat Thomas

A few days ago, my friend Steven Roback and I were playing a rock and roll quiz game. He said, "Name five concerts that you wish you were at." I quickly listed Woodstock, The Who at Fillmore East '68, Dylan at Royal Albert Hall, Fairport Convention with Sandy and Richard… and then I stopped for a moment… "The Dream Syndicate on KPFK Radio." Steven replied, "I was at the show, in fact the entire Rain Parade was there, Green On Red, everybody was there." Wynn told me later "Yeah, that's true. All the Bangles, I think even REM was there."
Playing their first show in January 1982, by September of that year-when this radio show was recorded-the band had quickly risen to the top of the heap of the Los Angeles music scene. Soon they would record and release The Days Of Wine And Roses album.
For myself, living 3000 miles away on the other side of America, it wouldn't be until August of 1983 that I would first hear the strains of Sure Thing and Some Kinda Itch on my local college radio station. But on first listen I was hooked. There was a power and beauty to their work that was as much influenced by the free jazz of Ornette Coleman as the Velvets and Crazy Horse. Karl Precoda would squeeze as much feedback out of his cheap Kay guitars as possible, often leaving them in a heap by the side of the stage. When I later asked Karl why he switched from Kays to a hollow body Gibson, he said, "Man, on that first cross country tour we destroyed all of the Kays. They couldn't handle it."
Let's look at the nine songs bottled inside of this five-inch silver disc. Among the highlights are Some Kinda Itch which is transformed from a fast frenzied jam into a slow, perverse epic of music seduction. Followed by a cover of Buffalo Springfield's Mr. Soul and into a blistering Sure Thing-the first three songs produce a unique metal orgasm between the band and the listener. But just when you thought the climax was over, you get Dylan's Outlaw Blues and an early skeletal version of John Coltrane Stereo Blues called Open Hour. JCSB has often been described as a Doors-like jam. Well, it's time to tell you that the song was not inspired by the Doors at all, but by their Elektra label mates, The Butterfield Blues Band. I discovered this while listening to the title track of Butterfield's classic East/West album. Wynn confirm this: "That's right. I was taking acid and playing that song over and over, then I started working on my song." While JCSB is a masterwork in its own right, Open Hour owes a courtesy thanks to Mike Bloomfield. When You Smile has always been a wonderful thing-like Van Morrison says on Jackie Wilson Said, "I'm in heaven when you smile." So am I when listening to this version. Donovan's Season Of The Witch pumps your ears for all they're worth before the final assault of The Days Of Wine And Roses. Here the band pulls out all the stops, playing together with all the finesse and delicate balance of a jazz combo.
If asked what appealed to me most about the Dream Syndicate when I heard them, I would have to say-most of all-it was contemporary. Here and now. It was music made by my peers. As I write this, I'm two weeks away from the end of being a "twenty-something." In my teens I worshiped at the temple of The Who, Led Zep, Cream, etc. Those were not real people-they were fantasies. The Dream Syndicate was real. You could track them down. Talk to them before and after the show. Meet them for a beer. The music on this CD stands like a statue, tall and proud. A monument of another time, another place. This is/was the music of my generation. For years, I wished I was at this show. With the miracle of modern technology, now I'm there.
March 26, 1994

photo of The Dream Syndicate by Violet Szilvas

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