Sunday, July 3, 2011

Paisley Underground Series, #17: True West- Hollywood Holiday (1983) / Drifters (1984) MP3 & FLAC

"The rain it's fast and hard, pooling like quicksilver on the ground, ran for the shelter of a nearby door, and I watched the drops come down."

Along with bands such as The Dream Syndicate, Game Theory, and Thin White Rope, True West originally hailed from the small but very influential music scene that thrived in the college town of Davis, CA. during the late seventies and early eighties, and like those other bands, they ended up gravitating to the Paisley Underground scene based in L.A. in order to find a wider audience and a record deal. True West's sound was a fertile blend of psych-tinged roots-rock, Jangle-Pop, and a touch of the dark, spidery dual-guitar interplay of Television, a combination of influences that made them quite unique among the Paisley crowd. After a brilliant self-released EP (which would eventually be grouped with additional tracks and released as the even more brilliant Hollywood Holiday), the band was invited by EMI to record some demos with Tom Verlaine; however, the sessions didn't go well, and EMI passed on them. By the time True West finally released their first proper LP, the slightly less brilliant but still quite enjoyable Drifters, they were beginning to undergo personnel changes that would eventually rob the band of much of their momentum. Though a third album appeared a few years later, True West were never able to hit the significant heights of their earliest recordings again. Because these recordings remained out of print for more than twenty years, Hollywood Holiday is very much one of the forgotten masterpieces of the Paisley scene. While its production sounds a bit thin in places, the austerity serves True West's aesthetic well, as their later recordings tended to polish the dark, almost Post-Punk grime out of their sound, thus making them seem, at times, like just another Jangle-Pop band. A perfect example of what made True West so distinctive is their cover of "Lucifer Sam" from Pink Floyd's psychedelic masterpiece, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, which manages to capture both the twisted whimsey of the original and to inject it with a little early-eighties paranoia courtesy of lead vocalist Gavin Blair, whose voice possesses none of the child-like naivete of Syd Barrett's. Coupled with the intertwining guitars of Russ Tolman and Richard McGrath, the song traverses new-found depths of acid-drenched darkness. "And Then the Rain," True West's signature song and easily one of the best things to come out of the Paisley scene, is a tense piece of Jangle-Pop melancholia that wallows beautifully in its doom-filled verses. My personal True West favorite is "Look Around," the lead track on Drifters, which features a killer Power-Pop-style hook and some memorable, inspired vocals from Blair. Although the phrase "lost classic" is used far too often by music reviewers, Hollywood Holiday and Drifters exemplify this notion. Eerily similar to the fate of Big Star ten years earlier, True West was as talented as any neo-psych band of the era, but commercial success would prove frustratingly elusive and, as is so often the case, an early demise soon followed.

Hollywood Holiday Revisited (2007 Remaster)

Hollywood Holiday

1. Steps to the Door  (3:15)
2. I'm Not Here  (2:23)
3. And Then the Rain  (3:48)
4. Hollywood Holiday  (4:10)
5. Lucifer Sam  (3:12)
6. It's About Time  (4:39)
7. Throw Away the Key  (3:13)
8. You  (4:48)


 9. Look Around  (4:30)
10. At Night They Speak  (3:23)
11. Speak Easy  (3:30)
12. Shot You Down  (3:32)
13. What About You  (4:48)
14. Hold On  (4:44)
15. And Then the Rain  (4:25)
16. Backroad Bridge Song (What Could I Say)  (3:02)
17. Ain't No Hangman  (2:47)
18. Morning Light  (4:02)
-Bonus Tracks-
19. Burn the Roses (1984 Verlaine Demo)  (3:24)
20. Look Around  (1984 Verlaine Demo)  (4:23)
21. Throw Away the Key (1984 Verlaine Demo)  (3:14)


  1. Thx for these albums... I have some more True West which is more difficult to find. In this case I found them with Soulseek some years ago...

    As far as I know these 4 were never on CD released. TV Western is an VHS rip, I think.

    192kps, but I don't have better. Enjoy

  2. Thanks for these! I only had them @192 lossy.

  3. Peter, thanks for the links! If anyone has a vinyl FLAC rip of "Hand of Fate," please let me know :)

  4. Four Steps From The Blues, my pleasure. These are nicely remastered and ripped from CD

  5. Excellent addition to the Paisley Underground Series! Thanks much. Kurt

  6. Kurt, thank you, yes, this one is amazing

  7. "And then the rain", always in my top-something lists. Keep the paisley coming Voix.

  8. ranxerox, great, great song. I've still got a huge amount of Paisley stuff to post. Should last at least a year. Good to hear from you!

  9. Of all the Paisley Underground reissues on CD, this one took way too long in coming out. And as the "norm" of these collections containing an LP and an EP with the occasional single/unreleased track thrown in, this one fills it to the brim at 79 minutes plus. It's probably a blessing the "backwards" b-side to "Lucifer Sam" (Mas Reficul) wasn't included as it becomes no more than a novelty after repeated listens. As far as judging "Drifters" as the lesser of the two, it holds its own when comparing to some of the other "Paisley's" lesser works such as say Rain Parade's "Crashing Dream". Most of "Drifters" songs are very memorable, and at times, I find myself starting this disc at "Look Around" just to give that album a focused listen.

  10. cudawaver, I agree- "Drifters" only suffers in comparison to the first album, but taken on its own, it is a fine piece of paisley pop. In fact, I could see how many would like it better than "Hollywood Holiday." By the way, I do the same thing by starting with "Look Around" on occasion (such a great song in itself)to take "Drifters" on its own terms


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