I first encountered the Rain Parade back in about '83, when they appeared on an Old Grey Whistle Test item about California's then -nascent 'Paisley Underground' scene, which seemed to merge post-punk with country rock and psychedelia. The bands covered included The Dream Syndicate (a Velvet Underground reference of course), The Long Ryders and The Rain Parade. The Paisley Underground scene never reached the mainstream of commercial success, but was interesting, and, in many ways, prefigured the late eighties UK psychedelia of The Stone Roses etc. It spawned Mazzy Star and (believe it or not), The Bangles. Tangentially related were the superb Green On Red.
The show included a mesmerising clip of The Rain Parade live, playing 'No Easy Way Down', a massive six minute slab of paranoid psychedelia, with a sitar-ish guitar hook very reminiscent of one of Robbie Krieger's licks at the start of 'The End' by The Doors. I was spellbound and went out and bought the Parade's live album, 'Beyond The Sunset' immediately. I was never disappointed with the track I'd enjoyed, but I must say it took my a long time to fully appreciate this album, as in my youth and early eighties, I was listening to elaborate UK stuff like Roxy Music, Japan, Stranglers, Magazine and so on. I discovered The Byrds in the late eighties and this was the key to my understanding The Parade.
What are they like? Imagine the Byrds of 'Younger Than Yesterday' and 'Notorious Byrd Brothers', crossed with Television, add a slice of The Doors and imagine if The Stone Roses had been early eighties Orange County skateboard kids. A lot of the music is limpid and laid back, especially on their best known and most celebrated album, the superb 'Emergency Third Rail Power Trip' (check it out, Roses fans, you'll love its blissed out laziness). But on 'Beyond The Sunset', the power of the bands' live presence really rooars out of the speakers (I'm talking original vinyl here as the CD is not out at the time I write), especially on 'No Easy Way Down' and the amazingly moving, self-loathing and desperate 'Cheap Wine', a track by 'Green On Red', which is one of those up-tempo but downbeat numbers you play when you're down - it gives you the feeling you get after listening to the VUs 'Heroin' and Alice Cooper's 'Ballad of Dwight Frye' of utter weariness, but in an upbeat singalong way. Just MAGIC! It also contains a cover of Television's 'Aint That Nothin''.
'Beyond the Sunset' appeared very briefly indeed on CD in about 99 - I saw it in HMV London one day, had just spent a ton of cash on music and thought - great, I'll get that soon. then it was gone. I suspect this was a semi-legal limited issue. I'm delighted it is back as to own it on CD has long been a dream of mine, and suggest anyone who likes The Byrds, The Doors, Television, The Stone Roses, The Velvets, My Bloody Valentine, Jonathan Richman or Grant Lee Buffalo buy it immediately.
Saw them live and they were as good as this album sounds. Draws you into a dreamlike world with shades of light and dark interweaving with mesmerising guitar work and keyboard frenzy. If you like the Doors and early Jefferson Airship. this might be for you.