Often neglected as being a dress rehearsal for the far more popular Mazzy Star, Opal's one and only studio album though shines much more brightly.

The neo-psychedelic Californian band formed in the mid-1980's and centred for the most part around the former Rain Parade guitarist David Roback and former Dream Syndicate bassist and vocalist Kendra Smith. Initally the group was called Clay Allison (after the Texan gunman of the 19th century) but the group dropped the name after just one single. Roback, Smith and drummer Keith Mitchell then collected up the remaining songs in the EP'Fell from the Sun' in 1984 under their own names before adopting the name Opal.

As with their Paisley Underground roots Opal kept their neo-psychedelic roots and their love of the Velvet Underground´s drone and fuzzy feedback. And wrapped it all up in cool indifference and Smith´s laconic delivery.

The album, produced by Roback at Sound Solution mixes short, drowsy, almost whimsical songs like the title track and 'A Falling Star' as well as more vigorous stompers like the T Rex-inspired 'Rocket Machine,' the blow-out of 'Siamese Trap' and the spiralling whirl of the closing track 'Soul Giver' which could really be seen as their signature tune as it effectively encompasses all of Opal's trademark styles - spacey organ and feedback.

The band gets their most animated though on 'Magick Power' which is almost Syd Barrett era Pink Floyd covering the Velvet's 'What Goes On' with its repetitive acid-soaked riff and Doorsian keyboards.

There's more to it though than just a few nods towards the West Coast acid rock and the Velvets. A times it veers close to improvisational jazz (most notably on 'Siamese Trip') as well as just whimsical ditties, but it is usually Smith's nonchalant delivery that holds it together.

But that can also be the album's Achilles heel too. In its weaker moments Smith's stance of indifference can border on the blaise. Cool indifference a la Nico turns into "I just can't be bothered". Often too, the pace on songs like 'A Falling Star' and 'She's a Diamond' is cumbersome. It strolls along admiring the view when it should be motoring forward.

Overall though the band pulls off a little gem of an album that is sorely neglected; overshadowed by Roback's output with Hope Sandoval as Mazzy Star.

Whilst touring the album Smith left the group and Roback brought in Sandoval, whom he had discovered playing in the folky duo Going Home and Opal effectively dissolved.














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