The Rain Parade – Emergency Third Rail Power Trip

Originally released in 1983, “Emergency Third Rail Power Trip” by The Rain Parade is as near perfect an album I have encountered. To my ears in those days, it was the equal of Love’s “Forever Changes” or Television’s “Marquee Moon”. A stunning debut that has not been diminished with the passing of years. I am happy to say that the new remastered reissue from the label Real Gone Music only improves upon my appreciation for this sonic document.

As part of the loose affiliation known as the “Paisley Underground”, which included such groups as The Dream Syndicate, The Three O’Clock, The Bangles, The Long Ryders, Green On Red, and True West, The Rain Parade were part of a wave of bands in a post-punk era unafraid to embrace past eras and let their sounds melt in your brains, not only in your ears.

At the time of the album’s release, the band was a five piece ensemble with David Roback and Matt Piucci on twin guitar duty. They had a stunning partnership, playing off each other like Verlaine & Lloyd from the aforementioned Television, or Neil Young on early solo albums with the band Crazy Horse. Although my focus on initialing hearing this record was on the guitars, much must be said for the wonderfully well timed and unique drumming by Eddie Kalwa. Giving the music a jazzy-eastern sort of feel, while always being a solid grounding point, from much Steven Roback could tether melodic bass lines. Adding to the ebb and flow were keyboard washes provided by Will Glenn.

The Music all blends and strains against itself perfectly with a slow burn feel from start to end. The tempo never rushes or falters.

The Album kicks off with “Talking in my sleep” and on this new remastered reissue version, what might have been previously unheard bits of percussion and guitars are clearly more evident, the song ending with a fade of keyboard output, I perhaps had not noticed before.

All of the songs on the album benefit greatly from this remaster, which sound lovingly done, bringing forth what was already there to begin with not uncovering some lost guitar part or additional vocal bit that never made it to the first release back in 1983.

One of my favorites from side two, “Look At Merri” has never sounded better, building towards a long ascending guitar solo, underpinned by the bass bounce and drumming that move the song along, drums that always seem to be mixed in to the music in such a way that you rarely notice them, until you catch your hands tapping along unconsciously while listening. I can think of no better compliment.

The album ends with the track “Kaleidoscope”. Hearing it now, again for the first time, with a slow keyboard steady build, and melodic crashing drums that seem to move from left to right, it is a wonder I neverrealized at the time, this song is the blueprint for David Roback’s next band, “Smith, Roback & Mitchell” as they were briefly named, before switching to the more memorable, “Opal”.

So yes, David Roback left the band sometime after the release of the debut album and a short tour of the states.

The mini album “Explosions In The Glass Palace” was recorded by a four piece band, with barely a noticeable difference. More acoustic guitars come to play, mixed in well with electrics, but the drums and bass remain, bouncing and balancing any psychedelic twist and turn.

On the second track of the mini album, “Prisoners” the band locks in on a groove reminiscent of second LP Pink Floyd, with a bit of slide guitar brought to the fore and the lyrics warning of possible menace.

The mini album concludes with two of the best songs the band has ever recorded, “Broken Horse” followed by “No Easy Way Down”. “Broken Horse” with it’s seemingly sad vocal, longing for something lost in childhood perhaps, over a mournful acoustic strum, electric guitar flourishes and then the song explodes subtly with an electric guitar solo that might invoke a smile. It is these sort of emotional turns, that keeps me coming back to these records over the years.

“No Easy Way Down”, when you hear it, you just know that band is going to conclude all of their live performances with this track. The guitars bite to cut loose, but never veer from the tempo. The repeated keyboard part drills into your brain, and it all ends with a string section that rises into the mix and fades away.

These are classic releases, ones I have heard many times, that have been remastered with great care by the folks at Real Gone Music, which I hope will find their way into your music collection.