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Early Recordings

Opal

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Album Review

While Opal's Happy Nightmare Baby is more representative of the group's richly textured brand of neo-psychedelia, the stripped-down Early Recordings compilation is an even better example of David Roback and Kendra Smith's remarkable songcraft. Released in the wake of the group's breakup, the album collects the majority of tracks from the Fell From the Sun and Northern Line EPs, along with a handful of outtakes and unreleased cuts, all spotlighting Opal's more subdued, acoustic-folk side. Peeling away the mystical haze which enshrouded Happy Nightmare Baby, the songs are plaintive and stark, exposing the emotional complexity at the band's core — the wistful "Empty Box Blues" and the haunting "Harriet Brown," both previously unissued, are unmatched in their beauty and grace.

Biography

Formed: 1984 in Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Reggae

Years Active: '80s

The neo-psychedelic group Opal formed in the mid-'80s, featuring former Rain Parade guitarist David Roback and former Dream Syndicate bassist Kendra Smith. Initially, the group was called Clay Allison, but the group dropped the name after one single; Roback, Smith, and drummer Keith Mitchell released the remaining Clay Allison tracks under their own name in 1984 on the Fell From the Sun EP. After its release, the group adopted the name Opal and released an EP, Northern Line, in 1985. Happy Nightmare...
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Early Recordings, Opal
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