Monday, May 19, 2008

Opal - Hear The Wind Blow

It's a fine line between dreamy and narcoleptic.

Maybe it's the difference between Hope Seconal Sandoval and Kendra Smith's voices, but while I always found Opal's music beautiful and hypnotic, I thought Mazzy Star (essentially the same band with a different singer) were pretty dull.

Actually, truth be told, Opal's lone LP, Happy Nightmare Baby, was a little too "weird scenes inside the goldmine" for my taste. It has some good tracks to be sure, but much of it meanders. In my opinion, the band's really killer stuff can be found on the Early Recordings LP that was released by Rough Trade after they broke up. Some of the key tracks on the album had previously been released on singles and EPs, but they were all new to me when the LP was released in 1989.

I recently picked up a couple used Mazzy Star CDs (unlike Opal's albums, which are rarer than hen's teeth, Mazzy Star CDs can be found cheap). I thought I might find more about them to appreciate now. Not really. "Fade Into You" and "Five String Serenade" are nice enough, but I still find them hard to take on the whole. Something about their music brings the lingering stench of patchouli and incense to my mind. Those are smells I would prefer to forget. I could never stand those and other odors associated with hippies, which is one of many reasons I was never a Deadhead. That's just not my trip, man.

But for some reason, despite being concocted from the same essential ingredients, Opal are a different story for me. The lovely "Hear The Wind Blow" was covered to great effect by Dean & Britta, and was originally released as a bonus-track on the CD issue of Early Recordings. I have feeling there are a lot more potential "bonus-tracks" that could have been included. Hopefully on some future reissue they will be.


sr-71, the blackbird of doom said...

Kendra Smith is definitely the secret ingredient that makes Clay Allison & Opal more magical than Mazzy. She has always been something of a mystical iconoclast: she left the Dream Syndicate just as they started getting noticed and then parted ways with Opal/Mazzy mainman Dave Robach to make a darkly hypnotic solo album featuring pump organ as a prominent instrument. From her early take on Can's She Brings the Rain on the Rainy Day compilation onward I can't think of a single musical misstep she has made. I'd give Happy Nightmare Baby another chance, though, if for no other reason than the pure aural joy of hearing Robach toss out Marc Bolan worthy guitar riffs like free mardi gras beads.

L said...

I heard 'Fell From The Sun' in your subsequent post and had to find out more - Familiar with Mazzy but not Opal. So... Great post and thanks for the intro. (I've heard Kendra Smith - now I see how the pieces fit together. And thanks Blackbird for your remarks.)