Formed in 1982, Dream Syndicate (a name leader Steve Wynn "borrowed" from John Cale's earlier band) were leaders
of L.A's so-called Paisley Underground scene. With Wynn perfecting a sort of
Lou Reed-style deadpan drawl, and his and Karl Precoda's nearly-feedbacking guitars alternating between
sinewy guitar patterns and straight-ahead chords, all while seemingly possesed by Neil Young's
Tonight's the Night-era passion, Dream Syndicate provided what in the 80's was sometimes
so hard to find - a good, straight-ahead rock band. The lineup was rounded out by Kendra Smith
on bass guitar and Dennis Duck on drums.
They kicked off their career with the low-budget, self-produced Dream Syndicate EP. They moved
on in 1983 to The Days of Wine & Roses, considered by many to be their finest work. It kicks off
with the song that best sums up the band - Tell Me When It's Over. With every line beginning with
Wynn drawling out "Awwwwwwww" or "Yeahhhhh", and a chorus that ends with "Aw let me know when
it's done", the effect is exhilarating. Definitely Clean follows - it's the kind of rock
the Strokes have built their popularity on, a good twenty years earlier. The rest of
the albums follows in style with only a few dull moments, and has been cited as an influence from
artists such as Kurt Cobain and The Black Crowes.
A downhill slide would be expected from many bands, but instead Dream Syndicate came out with
an album that, in many fans' lists, tops Wine & Roses: Medicine Show. The difference is a bit like
Big Star's #1 Record/Radio City period to its Third/Sister Lovers - the first tops the latter in
relative commercial success, but many consider the latter a better showing of the band's foundations.
Unfortunately Medicine Show hasn't been given the complete re-issue treatment that Wine & Roses has (it
has been re-released but is a bit hard to find).
Dave Provost replaced Kendra Smith on bass from this record on.
I can't say I've listened to the last two Dream Syndicate records, Out of the Grey and Ghost Stories.
They feature almost a completely different lineup, with Wynn and Duck the only surviving members of the
original lineup, and from what I've read, don't quite reach the level of previous recordings, but have
their moments nonetheless. To anyone who's just beginning to discover the Dream Syndicate, a good
starting point is the re-released Days of Wine & Roses, from 2001.
- Steve Wynn - vocal/guitar
- Karl Precoda - guitar - replaced by Paul B. Cutler on Out of the Grey
- Kendra Smith - bass - replaced by Dave Provost on Medicine Show, later replaced by Mark Walton
- Dennis Duck - drums
1982 The Dream Syndicate EP
1983 The Days of Wine & Roses
1983 Tell Me When It's Over EP
1984 Medicine Show
1984 This Is Not the New Dream Syndicate Album
1986 Out of the Grey
1987 50 in a 25 Zone
1988 Ghost Stories
1989 Live at Raji's
1993 The Lost Tapes
1995 The Days Before Wine and Roses: Live at KPFK,...
2001 The Days of Wine & Roses (Expanded)
- All Music Guide (http://www.allmusic.com)
- WynnWeb (http://www.stevewynn.net)