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Explosions In The Glass Palace

Crazy days, the early-'80s....

Explosions In The Glass Palace

Crazy days, the early-'80s. While the world apparently teetered on the perpetual brink of nuclear destruction, poodle perms, brat packs and MTV-sponsored soft rock made California the ultimate place to forget the impending Armageddon. And it was San Francisco that was once more proving to be the centre of the counterculture. They called it 'The Paisley Underground', and such legends in their own acid trip as The Dream Syndicate, Green On Red and, erm, The Long Ryders were the toast of [I]Whistle Test[/I] for at least two weeks. But while the others veered off towards country-rock territory, Rain Parade pursued a vision of modern psychedelic rock that still sounds extraordinary.

'Explosions In The Glass Palace' is only a mini-album strictly speaking - five tracks, under 30 minutes - but it's the only time in three studio attempts that they made the kind of head-spinning record their shoegazing descendants should have killed for.

Sonic cathedrals? We got 'em, in David Roback's mind-meltingly beautiful guitar sound, but they're employed sparingly and dynamically amid dark, dizzy tales of murder, madness and drug paranoia. And I defy anyone to find a more sublimely soaring, sun-scraping sound as the climax of 'A Broken Horse' at full volume. Roback subsequently formed Mazzy Star, who were a bit quieter.

But the most memorable cut is the hypnotic, brooding 'No Easy Way Down', a mantra for an altered state of mind, and testament to a band who, however fleetingly, made music that sounded like the best drugs ever.

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