The Rain Parade"Emergency Third Rail Power Trip”...

The Rain Parade

“Emergency Third Rail Power Trip” (1983)


Of Los Angeles’ many neo-psychedelic bands of the early ‘80s, the Rain Parade was by far the most mellow and surrealistic sounding. When you listen to this album, you almost feel compelled to light up some incense and don a tie-dyed T-shirt.

The group’s raw-sounding debut recording is clearly an internal listening experience. Its somnolent vocals and lazy rhythms contribute to a trippy soundscape that is almost spiritual in nature. You don’t merely listen to these songs; you meditate to them.


But unlike most New Age music, which has a similarly reflective bent, there’s enough variety and punch to the Rain Parade’s melancholy musings to keep you from drifting off into snoozeville. “This Can’t Be Today” is a hazy-spirited song enlivened by some exotic Middle Eastern instrumental flourishes; “1 Hr 1/2 Ago” has the improvised, anything goes feel of the Grateful Dead live, and “Look at Merri” is a wispy, off-center journey into the subconscious.

“Emergency Third Rail Power Trip” is a highly textural work. Yet the aptly named Rain Parade is still basically a guitar-centered band capable of delivering the occasional standout pop tune. The jangly “I Look Around” revisits the hook-laden psychedelic rock of the “Revolver"-era Beatles. The album closing “Kaleidoscope” is a deliciously slow and melodic number buttressed by David Roback’s moody and multifaceted guitar work.

The CD version of this album also includes the band’s 1984 EP, “Explosions in the Glass Palace.” The quintet disbanded after the release of its second studio album, 1986’s “Crashing Dream.” Roback is currently co-leader of the similarly dour but much better known Mazzy Star.