Here Come The Miracles
While Steve Wynn’s former band The Dream Syndicate garnered critical acclaim with their 1982 debut The Days Of Wine And Roses, they petered out into cult status. When the band broke up, front-man Steve Wynn continued in a similar vein, with a respectable but low profile solo career. Almost twenty years after The Days Of Wine And Roses, with little fanfare, Wynn unleashed a sprawling nineteen song set that deserves to be mentioned alongside the great double albums. Set in L.A. and recorded quickly in Arizona, the geographic identity is key; not only does the record have a sun-baked atmosphere that’s simultaneously paranoid and lethargic, but it’s full of reference points in the titles (‘Topanga Canyon Freaks’, Southern California Line’, ‘Death Valley Rain’, ‘Sunset To The Sea’) and lyrics.
Here Comes The Miracles is constructed around classic rock textures; it’s all nice warm organic guitars, organs and Fender Rhodes. Neil Young’s a good reference point, while there’s a touch of Lou Reed in Wynn’s vocal delivery, as he uses spoken delivery on some of the more intense moments. Sonically it could have been made in the late 1960s, but it also has a grungy tang that dates it much later; it’s too gritty and nasty to have been made in the sixties. It’s attractively warm and organic, while it has enough edginess and attitude to give it identity and make it a major work in its own right. Mostly it’s rock oriented, ranging from moodiness in the epic ‘Good And Bad’ and ‘Sustain’ to nastier rockers like ‘Smash Myself To Bits’ and ‘Crawling Misanthropic Blues’. There’s also pop gorgeousness on the delicate ‘Morningside Heights’, which is a gentle piano pop song that still dovetails neatly into the rest of the record. Despite the relatively negative tone of the record it’s book-ended by two quasi-spiritual statements; the opening title track, and the closing ‘There Will Come A Day’, which closes the record on an uplifting note, tying the loose ends of the record together and following another great rock tradition of the ‘My Back Pages’ ripoff (see also ‘Born to Run’, or Neil Young’s ‘Country Home’). I can’t think of another double album in the rock lexicon where there’s not one disposable track.