The DREAM SYNDICATE – ” The Complete Live At Raji’s “

Posted: July 22, 2020 in CLASSIC ALBUMS, MUSIC
Tags: , , , , , ,


Today, we’re taking a look at four recent titles pressed for audiophile-level vinyl excellence by the Run Out Groove label!

Run Out Groove embraces the Paisley Underground with the vinyl premiere of The Dream Syndicate’s The Complete Live at Raji’s.  Recorded on January 31st, 1988 (not 1989, as indicated on the original CD release of the truncated album), the set captured the underground heroes prior to the release of their Ghost Stories album – and a year prior to their breakup.  But the line-up, at this point consisting of Steve Wynn (vocals and guitar), Paul B. Cutler (guitar, vocals), Mark Walton (bass, vocals), and Dennis Duck (drums), was as tight and attuned to each other as possible.  The fifteen songs played that evening at the Hollywood club and preserved here on four sides of 180-gram, colorful swirl vinyl attest to that.

The original Live at Raji’s was released by Rykodisc as the band’s final album, following Ghost Stories. The 2004 expansion – the basis for this vinyl release – added four tracks including two covers (the fast and furious opener, Blind Lemon Jefferson’s “See That My Grave is Kept Clean,” and Bob Dylan’s ominous “All Along the Watchtower,” rendered with a dollop of Hendrix inspiration) and two Dream Syndicate favourites – “When You Smile” and “Tell Me When It’s Over.”  The sound on the vinyl as mastered by Paul duGré is full and warm, with dynamics that well translate the intimacy of the venue and the power of the performance – particularly in Cutler’s searing lead guitar and Wynn’s fiery growl.  The spare, aggressive overall sound owes to the swaggering likes of Television and The Velvet Underground as well as to the rawer, electric side of Neil Young, whose frequent collaborator Elliot Mazer produced the original live album.

The two LPs are housed in a sturdy gatefold containing liner notes by Pat Thomas, who co-produced the reissue with Run Out Groove’s Matt Block.  Now Sounds’ Steve Stanley has designed the bold jacket, and both of the discs are happily stored in black protective sleeves as per Run Out Groove’s typical attention to detail in packaging.

Though never commercially successful, Paisley Underground darlings – the Dream Syndicate were critically acclaimed and held up their version of neo-psychedelic rock n’ roll through the vapid MTV-dominated synth years of the 1980s. Influenced by the Velvet Underground, Neil Young and Television, the Syndicate led by vocalist, guitarist and band leader, Steve Wynn, formed the original version of the band with guitarist Karl Precoda in 1982 after moving back to Los Angeles.

Drummer Dennis Duck, who played in the Pasadena band, Human Hands, joined the Syndicate and suggested the band’s name in reference to Tony Conrad’s early 1960s NY experimental ensemble that included John Cale. The band performed their first live show at Club Lingerie in Hollywood on Feb 23, 1982 and later signed to Slash Records’ subsidiary, Ruby Records, releasing their enigmatic and best known album, “The Days of Wine and Roses.” After a brief hiatus in the latter 1980s, Wynn, Duck and bassist Mark Walton joined with guitarist Paul Cutler who had produced the band’s very first EP. By 1988 the band was on Enigma Records and began a relationship with producer Elliott Mazer, who produced Neil Young’s “Time Fades Away.” Mazer produced “Live at Raji’s”. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.