Thursday, July 24, 2014

the Dream Syndicate - Medicine Show

This month marks the thirtieth anniversary of Medicine Show, the second studio album the California alternative-rock band the Dream Syndicate. The group’s line-up included Steve Wynn (guitar and vocals), Karl Precoda (lead and rhythm guitars), Dennis Duck (drums) and Dave Provost (bass). Additional musicians on this record included Tom Zvoncheck (piano and organ), Sid Griffen, Stephen McCarthy, Paul Mandl and Gavin Blair (all four on backing vocals).

This record spent four weeks on the US Billboard Album chart, peaking at number 171. All of the tracks were written by Wynn except for the side one closer which was penned by Precoda.

Side one starts with “Still Holding On To You”, a post-breakup song that has a 1970’s Rolling Stones vibe to it musically. Wynn even has a bit of vocals like Jagger.

I like the combination of the guitars and the piano on “Daddy’s Girl”; it gives this older-man/younger-girl dating relationship a blues-rock sound.

The appropriately simmering “Burn” is up next.

“Armed With an Empty Gun” tells a compelling tale of a desperate man. Again, the mix of the instruments really works for me.

“Bullet With My Name On It” wraps up a solid first half.

Side two opens with the title track and first single. “The Medicine Show” has a hypnotic, seductiveness to it.

“John Coltrane Stereo Blues” is a nearly nine minute long jam.

“Merritville”, the closing track, was also the B-side to the first single.

Later CD releases of Medicine Show included an additional four live tracks, one of which was “Tell Me When It’s Over” from the band‘s 1982 debut album The Days of Wine and Roses.

I am pretty sure this was my first exposure to the Dream Syndicate, and I really liked what I heard here. The compositions are solid and the lyrics have a dark, dangerous tint to them. The album might have been a bit more mainstream than their early fans would have liked, but that is the way I prefer my rock records to be. This one quickly jumped to my download list over on emusic.

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