Mazzy Star – in Session for Bernard Lenoir – The Black Sessions – October 26, 1993 – RFI –
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Mazzy Star tonight. Recorded in Paris for Bernard Lenoir and his legendary Black Sessions for Radio France International on October 26, 1993.
One of the Desert Island bands, fronted by the other-worldly voice of Hope Sandoval, Mazy Star has been a perennial breath of fresh air since they got started in 1988. And even though they’ve gone through fits and starts and reunions and personnel changes, the core of the band, the hyper-luxurious sound of Sandoval has been a constant.
Mazzy Star is best known for the song “Fade into You” which brought the band some success in the mid-1990s and was the group’s biggest mainstream hit, earning extensive exposure on MTV, VH1, and radio airplay. David Roback and Hope Sandoval are the creative center of the band, with Sandoval as lyricist and Roback as composer of the majority of the band’s material.
The band’s most recent studio album, Seasons of Your Day, was released in 2013, followed by the EP Still in 2018.
Mazzy Star has deep roots within the Californian Paisley Underground movement of the early 1980s. David Roback, along with his brother Steven, was one of the main architects of leading Los Angeles psychedelic revival band the Rain Parade. Leaving that band after their first LP, he founded Clay Allison in 1983 with then-girlfriend, ex-Dream Syndicate bassist Kendra Smith. Soon after the publication of their sole release, the 1983 double A-sided single “Fell From the Sun”/”All Souls”, Clay Allison renamed themselves Opal and released the LP Happy Nightmare Baby on SST on December 14, 1987. With Roback as its musical catalyst, Opal were a direct precursor to Mazzy Star musically—often featuring the same psychedelic guitar drones and similar hints of blues and folk that would later appear on Mazzy Star recordings. Meanwhile, Sandoval—who was in high school at the time—formed the folk music duo Going Home in the early 1980s with fellow student Sylvia Gomez, and went on to tour with Sonic Youth and Minutemen. Both were devoted followers of the Rain Parade, and after a 1983 concert by the band in the Los Angeles area, Gomez entered the backstage area of the venue and gave Roback a copy of Going Home’s demo tape, featuring Sandoval on vocals and Gomez on guitar. Upon hearing the tape, Roback offered to produce a still-unreleased album by the pair.
When Smith left Opal under cloudy circumstances in the middle of a tour supporting the Jesus & Mary Chain, Sandoval was tapped as her replacement.
The American branch of Rough Trade folded in late 1990, briefly leaving Mazzy Star without a record label. Within weeks, the duo’s contract was picked up by Capitol, who re-released She Hangs Brightly on November 4, 1990, and released their follow-up, So Tonight That I Might See on September 27, 1993. A year after its release, the album yielded an unexpected hit single. “Fade into You” peaked at No. 44 to become their first Billboard Hot 100 single, while also reaching a career-high peak of No. 3 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart.
To get an idea what they were up to in 1993, right during the period of Fade Into You, hit the play button and dive into this session from Paris – and forget about everything else.