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Steve Wynn

In preparation for this week's guest, Steve Wynn, Jim and Greg do a little primer on the Paisley Underground music scene that developed in California in the 1980s. Jim plays a song by one of the seminal bands of this scene, The 3 O'Clock, whose very psychedelic name was inspired by Tom Wolfe's assertion in "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test" that if one drops acid in the early evening, the high of the trip will occur at 3:00 a.m. The 3 O'Clock was helmed by Michael Quercio, a musician who started as a punk rocker. After discovering psychedelic rock, however, his sound, and his look, began to change. It was Cuercio's affinity for the music of the '60s, as well as the brightly colored paisley clothes, that gave this scene its name. While the name did not do the music justice, the influence of the Paisley Underground on contemporary bands like Oasis and The Secret Machines is undeniable.

It may surprise to listeners who are only familiar with "Walk Like an Egyptian," but The Bangles were also pioneers of the Paisley Underground. Their original sound, with its three- and four-part harmonies and sing-songy melodies, paralleled that of The Mamas and the Papas and The Byrds. Lead singer Susanna Hoffs continues to work in this genre; she and '90s indie pop star Matthew Sweet just released a 1960s covers album featuring songs by The Left Banke, The Beach Boys and The Who.

Greg points out that the Paisley Underground sound was not a homogenous one — in fact, what bonded these bands was a punk sensibility that welcomed other musical styles. Unlike many other punk bands at the time, these acts didn't see why they had to conform to a strict policy of three-minute, Ramones-style songs. And what's more punk rock than non-conformity? One band that went above and beyond its punk and psychedelic influences was The Long Ryders. They took more of a country approach and can be seen as pioneers of the alternative country scene that now houses bands like Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt, and The Bottle Rockets.

The Rain Parade is the next Paisley Underground band up for discussion. While the members of The Rain Parade never saw the major label success like their peers in The Bangles or The 3 O'Clock (who were signed to Prince's Paisley Park label), many went on to work on successful projects. David Robeck formed the band Mazzy Star, which had an alternative hit single with "Fade Into You" in 1993 and Matt Piucci went on to work with Crazy Horse. The remaining bandmates reincarnated themselves as Viva Saturn.

Greg plays a song featuring this week's guest, Steve Wynn. His band The Dream Syndicate was a group that both Jim and Greg became fans of in the early '80s. They emerged in LA as one of the pioneers of the Paisley Underground sound. Steve then released a number of solo records and has spent the last few years with his most recent band, The Miracle 3. Steve and his band members, Linda Pitmon, Dave DeCastro and Kirk Swan, joined Jim and Greg for an interview and performance at the Chicago Recording Company.

The Dream Syndicate never made it into the 1990s, but its innovative sound continued to influence artists. While other LA bands at the time, like Black Flag, Social Distortion and Bad Religion, were making post-punk and punk music with a really hard edge, The Dream Syndicate stuck to a swirlier, psychedelic pop sound. For this reason, Jim and Greg explain, no matter how many solo projects he embarks on, our guest will most likely always be remembered as the lead singer of The Dream Syndicate.

After playing a track from Days of Wine and Roses, which Greg calls one of the masterpieces of the Paisley Underground era, our host asks Steve about the chemistry between two guitarists. In this case, Steve's partner in guitar is Kirk Swan, who was in another innovative '80s indie pop band, Dumptruck, Steve responds that the basic formula of guitar, drums, and bass is simple, but never gets old. He points to bands like Neil Young and Crazy Horse and Television as examples.

Jim asks Steve about why he continues on in this business after so many years. As Steve jokes on his website, this new album is one of several“comebacks,”but music is not such an easy life to come back to. After being pegged the“new Springsteen,”Steve and the band had somewhat of a difficult time. He explains how that hurt the band (and indirectly how he hurt Jim one drunken night). Thankfully they both came out on the other side.

Go to episode 21
specials

1977 - The Year Punk Broke

In the second and final installment of our series 1977: The Year Punk Broke, Jim and Greg explore the punk movement stateside with music writer Ira Robbins. Ira founded the music magazine Trouser Press in 1974. As a music journalist in New York, he was a fixture of the CBGBs scene, regularly "taking [his] life in his hands" to go to second avenue and hear bands like the Ramones, the Dictators, the Dead Boys, and Television play divey clubs. Whereas punk enjoyed a rapid rise in the U.K. in 1977, Ira describes the New York scene as more of a slow simmer. Fans gradually migrated from clubs like Max's Kansas City, where glam acts like The New York Dolls ruled, to clubs like CBGBs where a younger, rawer set of performers was defining the punk look and sound. Though the Ramones, with their simple song structures and leather jackets became emblematic of New York punk, Ira remembers a diverse scene. The Dead Boys, Television, and The Talking Heads may not have sounded the same, but in economically-depressed 70s-era New York, they shared an attitude that "life sucked, it's probably not going to get better, but so what."

Jim and Greg each choose a favorite track from the New York scene. Greg goes with the Talking Heads' "Don't Worry About the Government" from the band's self-titled debut. More than any other band, the Talking Heads epitomized New York punk's diversity. Their first gig may have been opening for the Ramones, but Greg contends the band's sound was more dance than punk. Still, Byrne's narrator in this song - a stressed, neurotic government bureaucrat - taps into the anxiety of the punk era. Jims goes with the ultimate American punk anthem, Richard Hell's "Blank Generation." The story goes that U.K. punk impresario Malcolm McLaren saw Hell perform the song in the U.S., then returned home and advised The Sex Pistols to write something "just like it, but your own."

Go to episode 351

1967

Not to make you feel old, but it's been 45 years since the "Summer of Love," the year of the hippie, and some of the most influential music in rock history. So Jim and Greg have decided to look back at the watershed year 1967. Television viewers were treated to memorable performances by The Who, The Doors and The Rolling Stones. Aretha Franklin recorded her famous Atlantic release "Respect." Fans from around the country gathered in California for the Monterey International Pop Music Festival. But during this episode Jim and Greg focus on the single LP's that changed the way people thought of the studio and a collection of songs. 1967 gave birth to the idea of album as art.

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club band is, of course, the most prominent example of studio innovation on album in '67. Recorded at Abbey Road by George Martin on mono, stereo and four-track recorders, Sgt. Pepper's was a critical and commercial success. But, as they stated during our Revolver Classic Album Dissection, Jim and Greg don‘t think it’s The Beatles‘ best. Nor is it the best album of that year. They’d point people to the landmark recordings The Piper at the Gates of Dawn by Pink Floyd, Forever Changes by Love and The Velvet Underground and Nico by The Velvet Underground. Jim and Greg talk about these albums' innovations in terms of recording and artistic ambition. They also hear from Joe Boyd, who produced Pink Floyd's first single in 1967 and Jac Holzman, who discovered Love and signed them to Elektra.

Go to episode 323
dijs

Jim

“See No Evil”Television

Jim's Desert Island Jukebox selection is inspired by another recent loss. Musical engineer Andy Johns passed away at age 61. As Jim explains, Johns was witness to the recording of some of rock's great masterpieces, from The Stones' Sticky Fingers and Exile on Main Street, to Led Zeppelin's Led Zeppelin II. But for his pick, Jim goes to a personal favorite: the debut album by New York punk rockers Television. "See No Evil" still gets heads bobbing in Chicago clubs, and Jim credits Johns with the track's intimate drum sound.

Go to episode 385

Jim

“Alive”Dumptruck

It's Mr. DeRogatis' turn to visit the Desert Island Jukebox, and he ties the show up nicely with a selection from the band Dumptruck. Steve Wynn played with one of Dumptruck's founders, Kirk Swan, during the segment. Swan and his partner, Seth Tiven, put out their debut album D is for Dumptruck in 1994. It was heavily influenced by what Paisley Underground bands like The Dream Syndicate had been doing on the West coast. Dumptruck incorporated more folk rock and power pop into their music than contemporaries, and were also influenced by Big Star, Fairport Convention (who also count Greg Kot and Sound Opinions guest Colin Meloy as fans), and the band Television. Like Dumptruck, Television was comprised of two guitarist-vocalists: Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd. Jim explains that outside of Television, he has never seen two guitarists work as well together as they did in Dumptruck, as you can hear in Jim's DIJ pick, "Alive." Listeners desiring more Dumptruck should check out Haul of Fame: A Collection, for which our host provided liner notes.

Go to episode 21
lists

Guest Desert Island Jukebox

Jim and Greg usually monopolize the desert island jukebox playing tracks they can‘t live without. But this week, they’re handing out quarters to some of the talented guests that have appeared on the show, so they can share the songs they'd take with them if stranded out at sea.

  • Moby, Cat Stevens, "Peace Train" and The Beatles, "Let It Be"
  • Mary J. Blige, Stevie Wonder, Songs in the Key of Life
  • Sleater-Kinney, Sam Cooke, Greatest Hits: Sam Cooke, Television, Marquee Moon, Tears for Fears, Songs From The Big Chair
  • Shamir, Wolf Alice, "Lisbon"
  • Rush, Buffalo Springfield, "For What It's Worth" and The Who, Who's Next
  • Herb Alpert, Miles Davis, Kind of Blue
  • Bob Mould, The Beatles, Revolver (in mono)
  • L.A. Reid, Steely Dan, "Haitian Divorce"
Go to episode 590