The Dream Syndicate – Medicine Show (Water Records)

First released in 1984, Medicine Show has long been a divisive album among Dream Syndicate fans. Recorded with a big-time producer (Sandy Perlman – The Clash, Blue Oyster Cult), and released by a major label, it should have pushed the group into the mainstream. Instead, difficult studio sessions, coupled with a muted reception, drove the band apart. Looking back on it now, Medicine Show is flawed, but it plays like a younger sibling to albums like Tonight’s The Night and Big Star’s Third/Sister Lovers. It starts off innocuously enough with a pair of straight-ahead rock songs (“Still Holding Onto You” and “Daddy’s Girl”) nobody would think twice about, then it dive-bombs into a world of dread and disillusionment that grows increasingly sinister with each passing song. “Medicine Show” and personal favorite “Bullet With My Name On It” drive the Neil Young comparison’s home with some lengthy Crazy Horse-inspired jams that overcome the trapped-in-the-‘80s production. The new reissue includes the obligatory remastered sound and liner notes from David Fricke. More importantly it includes the This Is Not The New Dream Syndicate Album…Live! EP, from a 1984 Chicago club date recorded for radio broadcast. The four songs from Medicine Show on this EP sound downright feral and deranged compared to the sterile studio versions and the piano-led version of “Tell Me When It’s Over” contrasts nicely with the version from Days Of Wine and Roses.