A Brief History of Opal

Opal formed in Los Angeles in 1983, comprised of Kendra Smith (vocals, keyboards) and David Roback (guitar, vocals). Smith had previously played bass with the Dream Syndicate, while Roback was the original guitarist for the Rain Parade. The pair began collaborating after their paths crossed while working on other projects, including Rainy Day, a compilation of covers performed by various "Paisley Underground" bands. Smith and Roback initially recorded under the name Clay Allison, drawn from a character on the Wild Wild West TV series. Their debut release, the Fell From The Sun 7", was available with Bucketful of Brains magazine in 1983. An expanded version of the single was released as a 12" the following year, this time credited to Kendra Smith/David Roback/Keith Mitchell. Mitchell was formerly the drummer of Green On Red. The trio were joined by guitarist Juan Gomez on "Grains Of Sand". The band finally settled on the name Opal (a Syd Barrett reference) with their third release, the 1985 Northern Line 12" EP on the One Big Guitar label. The 1986 Zippo compilation Don't Shoot featured a version of the North Carolina folk song "Freight Train" by Elizabeth Cotton, credited as Clay Allison. In 1987 the band released their first and only proper album, Happy Nightmare Baby, reflecting a range of influences from Syd Barrett to T.Rex.

In 1987 the band contributed cover songs to a pair of compilations, recording a version of the Doors' "Indian Summer" for a 7" EP included with the Chemical Imbalance fanzine, and Pink Floyd's "If The Sun Don't Shine" for the Beyond The Wildwood Syd Barrett tribute. A dispute erupted late in 1987 during the tour for Happy Nightmare Baby, resulting in Kendra Smith's departure from the band. She was replaced by Hope Sandoval for the remainder of the tour, and Roback and Sandoval would later continue their collaboration under the name Mazzy Star.

In 1989 Early Recordings was issued, a posthumous collection of rare and unreleased material, including all the tracks from the Fell From The Sun 7"/12" (Fell From The Sun, All Souls, Grains Of Sand, Lullabye), the two non-album tracks from the Northern Line 12" EP (Northern Line, Empty Bottles), plus a number of previously unreleased tracks (Empty Box Blues, My Only Friend, Brigit On Sunday, Strange Delight, Harriet Brown). The CD adds the additional unreleased track Hear The Wind Blow.

Mazzy Star has released four albums, She Hangs Brightly (1990), So Tonight That I Might See (1993), Among My Swan (1996), and Seasons of Your Day (2013). David Roback has also worked as a producer for Beth Orton.

Following a hiatus from the musical world, Kendra Smith emerged in 1990 with "Stille Im Meine Hamburg", a track from a split 7" shared with Keith Levene/Hillel Slovak. In 1992 she recorded The Guild Of Temporal Adventurers 10" EP, followed by a 1995 album for 4AD, Five Ways Of Disappearing.

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