“Happy Nightmare Baby”

OPAL – “Happy Nightmare Baby” (Sally Gardens) 2019

I wrote about Opal’s “Early Recordings” CD yesterday and the sad story regarding their music reissue programme that was halted due to disputes with leader David Roback, who has since died.

Their only studio album before Kendra Smith left was “Happy Nightmare Baby”, released in small quantity back in 1987. I have a white label test pressing of the album which I’ll post another time. It’s such a shame that the Sally Garden re-issue is not going to reach a wider audience because it’s a truly sensational record and the remastering to digital is sonically impressive.

Each and every track is hypnotic and mesmerising. They’re all slow-paced druggy rhythms, intense drones of noise, mysterious, almost dis-interested vocal delivery by Smith and of course we have the drowsy, psychedelic guitar leads from David Roback, all blended together superbly by a soft drum sound and percussion.

They’re not bothering to hide their influences. In fact they positively embrace and shout them into your head. There are numbers obviously inspired by Pink Floyd’s deep experimentations from their “Saucerful Of Secrets” phase, “Waiting For The Sun” era Doors and of course the rockier tracks “Rocket Machine” and “A Falling Star” recall T- Rex.

Some have said that they were possibly the first Shoegaze band and influenced the late ’80s scene in Britain. I’m not so sure about that, but they’re certainly creating a way-out, mind-altering state of sonic beauty on the album closer “Soul Giver”

Leave a Reply