The Dream Syndicate

The Complete Live at Raji's

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The Complete Live at Raji's Review

by Stewart Mason

On tour in support of their final album, 1988's Ghost Stories, Dream Syndicate recorded a limited-edition live album, 1989's Live at Raji's, that quickly became something of a holy grail for fans. Especially in comparison to Dream Syndicate's previous live release, the curiously flat This Is Not the New Dream Syndicate Album...Live EP from 1984, Complete Live at Raji's (an expanded double-disc set featuring the full concert) is truly remarkable. Covering the band's entire career, reaching all the way back to 1982's groundbreaking Days of Wine & Roses (over half of which is represented), the set list is a well-chosen blend of Steve Wynn's twisted character studies and the band's neo-psychedelic guitar rave-ups. The second disc in particular focuses on the latter side of Dream Syndicate's sound, consisting entirely of half-a-dozen different jams in the seven- to nine-minute range, all of which feature only the barest minimum of aimless noodling in favor of some impressively noisy solos and some of Wynn's most raw-throated singing, especially on a near-violent climax to "The Days of Wine and Roses." The whole thing is capped off with the definitive version of "John Coltrane Stereo Blues," Dream Syndicate's own "Sister Ray," which had never quite been captured in its full glory on tape before. Dream Syndicate were already kaput when the first release of Live At Raji's came out, but this expanded edition shows that unlike many of their so-called Paisley Underground contemporaries, they went out at the peak of their powers.

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