Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Paisley Underground Series, #8: Op@l- H@ppy Nightmare B@by (1987) MP3 & FLAC

"Jigsaw Jenny, motor city, she's a vampire, so am I."

It has never been made entirely clear what led to David Roback's exit from Rain Parade after their brilliant debut LP, Emergency Third Rail Power Trip. The "official" story is that he left to work on Rainy Day, a Paisley Underground-related musical collective that included, among others, Michael Quercio from The Three O'Clock, Susanna Hoffs of The Bangles, and Kendra Smith, bassist for The Dream Syndicate. Rainy Day only produced one album, and Roback and Smith ended up pairing off not only into a new romance, but also into a new band, Clay Allison. After releasing one single, the band changed their name to Opal, and released a pair of EPs, which were later collected together on Early Recordings. In the context of the neo-psych music scene from which it emerged, Opal's lone LP, Happy Nightmare Baby sounds somewhat unique in the sense that it largely dispenses with the Jangle that defined many Paisley bands at the time, instead choosing to explore the darker side of psychedelia while integrating some subtle Glam-Rock undertones as well. A perfect example of this is the extended psych-jam "Magick Power," which features some great Ray Manzarek-style electric organ, Roback's grungy guitar riffs fed through a wah-pedal, and Kendra Smith's beautifully detached vocals sounding, at times, almost corpse-like. On "Rocket Machine," Roback channels his inner Marc Bolan by structuring the song around a sexy, sleazy riff that seems to pull Smith's vocals along on its back. A psych-gem of a different color is "She's a Diamond," which, of all the songs on Happy Nightmare Baby, is the most reminiscent of the more acoustic blues-based sound of the earlier EPs, and as a result, it provides Smith with a little more space to reveal her unique vocal style. Opal's short but brilliant career tends to get overshadowed by what preceded it and what came after its demise, but their music is among the darkest and most enduring to have emanated from the Paisley Underground scene.

Happy Nightmare Baby
1. Rocket Machine  (4:24)
2. Magick Power  (6:14)
3. Revelation  (2:53)
4. A Falling Star  (1:21)
5. She's a Diamond  (4:18)
6. Supernova  (4:17)
7. Siamese Trap  (6:38)
8. Happy Nightmare Baby  (2:52)
9. Soul Giver  (8:34)


  1. This is one of the hidden diamonds of the 80's.
    I've been waiting for this one since I got to know this Blog.

    Cheers !

  2. Lon, I have more Opal to share as well. "Early Recordings" and a bunch of bootlegs. I'll also answer your previous email when I get back from class tonight :)

  3. I'll be waiting for these...

    About the email - cool.

  4. Lon, I'll try to post some more Opal w/in the next 10 Paisley posts. Next up: Thin White Rope

  5. This was an odd album, nothing they did before or after sounded like this. She's A Rainbow had already been recorded (and can be found on the stellar Early Recordings), so no wonder it sounds slightly out of place here. You mentioned the Rainy Day album, now this one is quite central to the Paisley experience, imo. I hope we'll see it on this blog.
    And, by the way, thanks for all your efforts, it's certainly one of the best blogs around.

  6. Anon. "Rainy Day" will definitely be in the series, possibly w/in the next 10 series posts. I will also be posting both volumes of Opal's "Early Recordings." Thanks for supporting the blog; I really do appreciate it :)

  7. Anon. one more thing, let me know if you have any further suggestions for Paisley-related posts. I have amassed quite a bit of material, but I'm always looking for more suggestions, thanks

  8. Having trouble downloading this file. It starts dl'ing and then stops. Thanks


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