"When you think the night has seen your mind, that inside you're twisted and unkind."
David Roback's exit from Rain Parade, the seminal Paisley band that he had formed with his brother Steven, after the release of their neo-psyche classic, Emergency Third Rail Power Trip, has long been shrouded in mystery, but whatever the reason--whether he chose to leave over creative differences or was jettisoned by the band for being difficult to work with--it led to the creation of one of the more intriguing and sought-after recordings associated with The Paisley Underground. Essentially a David Roback-curated collaborative project comprised of a number of prominent figures from the Paisley scene, Rainy Day reflects both the unity of the scene in its early days and its impressive array of influences. Recorded by former Minutemen producer Ethan James (also an ex-member of Blue Cheer) at his Radio Tokyo Studios (a small house with carpet-covered walls and no windows that was located a few blocks from Venice Beach), Rainy Day was intended as a tribute to some of the artists who served as inspirations to the Paisley scene, such as The Velvet Underground, Big Star, Bob Dylan, Buffalo Springfield, The Beach Boys, and others. Roback had compiled a list of potential covers and set about recruiting various friends to come in and contribute to the recording process. Among these were former Dream Syndicate bassist Kendra Smith, who would soon join Roback in Clay Allison/Opal, Susanna Hoffs and Vicki Peterson from The Bangles, Michael Quercio from The Three O'Clock, former Rain Parade band-mate Matt Piucci, and Dennis Duck and Karl Precoda of The Dream Syndicate. Steven Roback recalls the general mood of the sessions: "...by the early '80s, the music of the Velvets and Big Star better expressed our mood. It was darker, lonelier, more daring. L.A. was in a somewhat depressed period....Punk was big then and had the right attitude. So the musicians that participated in Rainy Day were trying to recast the spirit of punk but in more expansive musical terms." The album itself features minimal, mostly acoustic arrangements and retains a somber, desolate sense throughout. While Quercio and Roback (yes, he actually sings here!) provide serviceable vocals for half of the songs, it is Susanna Hoffs and Kendra Smith who steal the show. In particular, Hoff's rendition of "I'll Be Your Mirror" is simply stunning and arguably bests Nico's version on the Velvets' debut. Not to be outdone, Smith's version of Alex Chilton's "Holocaust" is just as amazing, her languid, mournful phrasing somehow capturing the bottomless despair of the original. Many describe Rainy Day as the one true masterpiece produced by the Paisley scene; while I hesitate to confer such a lofty status to this record (in my opinion, there were better Paisley recordings), there is no doubt that this is one of the essential documents of the eighties L.A. underground.
Rainy Day (Rough US 41CD)
1. I'll Keep It with Mine (3:24)
2. John Riley (3:15)
3. Flying on the Ground Is Wrong (3:20)
4. Sloop John B. (4:23)
5. Soon Be Home (A Quick One While He's Away) (4:09)
6. Holocaust (3:53)
7. On the Way Home (2:53)
8. I'll Be Your Mirror (2:36)
9. Rainy Day, Dream Away (11:33)