Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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The Dream Syndicate

  • The Dream Syndicate [Down There EP, 1982] B+
  • The Days of Wine and Roses [Ruby, 1982] B+
  • Medicine Show [A&M, 1984] B-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

The Dream Syndicate [Down There EP, 1982]
Karl Precoda has the feedback down, and Dennis Duck simulates Mo's style while intensifying her groove and doubling her drive, but Steve Wynn needs to work on his Lou--he projects too much. Denying the Velvets ever cross his mind is a nice conceited Loulike touch, though. B+

The Days of Wine and Roses [Ruby, 1982]
Punctuated as well as buoyed by drummer Dennis Duck, Karl Precoda shapes a guitar master's trick bag of basic chords and ungodly electric accidents into drones that won't quit, so abrasively tuneful I get off on this album strictly as a groove--the way I get off on perfectly mindless funk like, say, the Gap Band singles. But Steve Wynn's take on the usual world-weary table topics is gratifying matter-of-fact and no more, and music like this--music where the fun is in the no-fun--feels incomplete when it stops there. B+

Medicine Show [A&M, 1984]
Very subtle--the sharper you listen the duller it sounds. Those desperate for Tom Verlaine's next one might conceivably settle for Sandy Pearlman's ampliclarification of Karl Precoda's guitar, but now that Steve Wynn is flexing his literary imagination we know where the interpersonal vignettes on the debut came from: when he grows up, Steve wants to write new journalism about adolescent anomie for California magazine. B-