Rough Night in Jericho – Dream So Real (1988)

Rough Night in Jericho album cover
Rough Night in Jericho album cover

At the height of R.E.M.’s breakout period (towards the end of the middle 1980s), their popularity raised the awareness of the musical wealth that was coming from the small college town of Athens, Georgia. The B-52s were getting a lot of attention as was Matthew Sweet and Love Tractor. Another local band with plenty of potential promise was Dream So Real.

Around 1985 they released their first single, Everywhere Girl a swirly guitar piece of psychedelia produced by Peter Buck of R.E.M. Buck would produce their first album which achieved modest success regionally.

The big record companies smelling a hot trend (when it was almost over), became interested and Dream So Real’s second album Rough Night in Jericho would be released on Arista Records. As a second album, the band had polished up their sound. Gone was the psychedelia and in its place a kind of muscular vintage surf sound that was very un-Athens like and more west coast as in the Plimsouls.

Barry Marler’s raspy vocals sounded almost English Mod at times. In addition to leading a three piece band, Barry also played guitar. The band has maintained the same line up of Trent Allen on bass and Drew Worsham on drums throughout its short history of only three full length albums.

The harder edge sound did produce a hit from the title song, while other tracks like ‘California’ and ‘Open Your Eyes’ were particularly strong. Despite a few good candidates for a follow-up single, there were none oddly enough.

Despite the strong songs and production from Bill Descher, Rough Night In Jericho reached #150 on Billboard’s Top 200 Album Chart. That was enough to qualify the album as a hit by college radio standards, the underground was having a coming out party with R.E.M. as it’s hosts. Somehow Dream So Real had missed its invitation.

The Athens sound was being shaped by R.E.M. and Dream So Real had taken a bold step away from that sound just as the major record labels were going into the rolling hills of Georgia and North Carolina to find clones.

Today Dream So Real is known mostly for the title track from Rough Night in Jericho. and the excellent first single. As R.E.M., The B52s and Matthew Sweet exploded in popularity, Dream So Real would sputter by the time of their third album Gloryline in 1990 and would be dropped from Arista. The band released a final album on their own called Nocturnal Omissions in 1992.

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