A GUEST POSTING by HYBRID SOC PROF,
our Michigan Correspondent
In the Spring of 1981, I completed my time playing classical music in the morning on WSRN-FM, and took on the Saturday evening 60s show. I was barely 18 and loved the early 70s art rock of ELO, Genesis and the like… Searching around the shelves, I happened upon Lenny Kaye’s Nuggets collection. These were not the ‘60s I’d been raised on. I mentioned this “discovery” to the station’s music direction and he pointed me to the 10 LP Pebbles series… that was it. No more art rock, and punk finally made sense! Capping it off, the Fleshtones played our campus. The volume, charisma, joy, dancing, sweat and exhaustion. Nuggets and Pebbles were alive in 1982?! I discovered Ace, Stiff, Arf Arf, and Rough Trade Records and then the Warfrat Tales collection and a series of reviews by Robert Palmer in the NY Times introduced me to LA’s poorly named Paisley Underground.
The Dream Syndicate weren’t on Warfrat Tales but they were mentioned in Palmer’s review of a Green on Red show in NYC. By the summer of ’83, I saw the Feelies at Maxwell’s in Hoboken but missed the Dream Syndicate tour, despite having fallen in love with The Days of Wine and Roses (1982, Ruby/Slash) , I didn’t get to see them until the tour for Medicine Show (1984, A&M) . The show, “Burn” is selected from it in this Imaginary Album, was again at Maxwell’s – a tiny little venue behind a tightly packed little corner bar – on a hot July night. Chris Cutler was on guitar (Carl Precoda had left the band for grad school in English) and Mark Walton on bass (Kendra Smith had left for the Northern California woods) but they the blew the roof of the place… my ears rang for days afterward.
Playing ultimate frisbee seriously, and then starting grad school myself, I missed the next few tours and, while I liked Out of the Grey (1986, Chrysalis) , and Ghost Stories (1988, Enigma) – and they each have notable songs – they weren’t as consistent, as explosive, or as impactful, so I also didn’t make the effort to see them before they broke up in ‘89.
Going back to 1985’s LP, The Lost Weekend (A&M), put out as Danny and Dusty, I think it’s fairly clear that Steve Wynn, the primary songwriter for the Dream Syndicate, should never be allowed to sit with his songs or produce his own music. The Danny and Dusty record was put together with Dan Stuart of Green on Red and members or The Dream Syndicate, Green on Red and The Long Ryders all played on it. It’s great. Similarly, Wynn’s quick and dirty solo work, and his album recorded really fast with Thalia Zedek and the members of Come are really strong…the things he spends too much time on generally don’t pack much of a wallop.
I had hoped that they might reform for the 20th anniversary of the Hotel Congress venue in Tucson, Arizona,in 2005 but it wasn’t until 2012 that it happened and I was able to see them in 2013 on my birthday, in Chicago during the tour celebrating the 30th anniversary of the release of The Days of Wine and Roses. They’re still loud as heck.
In sticking with the idea of Imagined Albums, I’ve tried to generate a coherent album rather than a list of favorites, though there’s a great deal of overlap.
1. Kendra’s Dream, from 2017’s How Did I Find Myself Here?
2. When You Smile (Live), from 1994’s The Day Before Wine and Roses
3. The Lonely Bull (Live), Syndicated Dreams Vol 6 – Roskilde 7-5-86
4. The Medicine Show, from 2010’s The Medicine Show (remastered)
5. Black, from 1988’s Ghost Stories
6. That’s What You Always Say, from 1982’s The Days of Wine and Roses
7. Out of My Head, from 2017’s How Did I Find Myself Here?
8. The John Coltrane Stereo Blues, from 2010’s The Medicine Show (remastered)
9. When the Curtain Falls, from 1988’s Ghost Stories
10. Burn, from The Steve Wynn Archive, Live at Maxwell’s 1985-07-13