red roses for me

Rainy Day & Mazzy Star

(from Red Roses 4)

I always thought that the whole point of fanzines, apart from obviously the huge ego trip for the writer, was that they were making , a hopefully not vain, attempt to convince their readers to listen to a certain band, record or just think about something. Whether this is the case with Red Roses only you know (tell me!) but a perfect example of this for me is the case of David Roback. Who? You may well be asking as I did until I read about him in the very wonderful Far Out & Fishy fanzine. Anyway in case you don't know Mr. Roback is a guitarist & sometimes singer, who through a series of bands: THE RAIN PARADE, CLAY ALISON, OPAL, RAINY DAY & MAZZY STAR, has made some of the best & in the most part under rated music of the last ten or so years.

I could go over the same ground as Chris did in FOAF but you'd better off reading his article, secondly it'd show mine up! Therefore I'm going to concentrate on David Roback's Rainy Day & Mazzy incarnations.

The Rainy Day album was recorded in 1984 at the time when the music press' flavour of the month was the so called "Paisley Underground" This mythical movement consisted of any band playing guitars (especially Rickenbackers) and included everyone from the Bangles to the fledgling REM. In view of this Rainy Day (the band & album) could be called a supergroup as it featured members of The Rain Parade, Dream Syndicate, Three O Clock & The Bangles performing cover versions of nine songs. It proved firstly that Roback has great taste & secondly not all covers have to be inferior crass retreads. It opens with one of the best songs, a gorgeous cover of Dylan's "I'll Keep It With Mine" which sets the scene for the majority of the other songs as well featuring understated instruments topped off in this case with Susannah Hoffs rich vocals. She also sings on "I'll Be Your Mirror" one of the few Velvets covers that actually comes close to the original.

Also featured on two songs is Kendra Smith, one time bassist with the Dream Syndicate who went on to join Roback in Clay Alison & Opal & shows what a fine voice she has here. The first song a version of Buffalo Springfield's "Flying On The Ground" actually introduced me to the band while the second a take on Big Star's "Holocaust" is one of the bleakest things you're ever likely to hear. All in all an excellent record, at a great price with an awful cover!

Righty ho, now imagine a clock face spinning round & round & we fast forward to 1990. Out of nowhere comes Roback's new band, Mazzy Star, with another vocalist with an unusual name Hope Sandoval & a classic album "She Hangs Brightly" It got bag of praise from almost everywhere, Gerbil Breeders gazette didn't get it though! Dressed in a dark sleeve which perfectly mirrors the mood within & contains some of the best songs Roback has ever written. Guitars form a stark at times countryfied background on landscapes dominated by Hope's voice sounding like an angel with the weight of the world on her shoulders (blimey!)

No singles were released from it but it stands up without needing a catchy chorus the way only classic records can. In fact the Americaness of it shines through in such a desolate way it'd make a perfect soundtrack to a David Lynch film.

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