27/06/2009

The Long Ryders - The Best Of (2004)

«Solid is the word that springs to mind for this au courant collection from the Long Ryders' mid-'80s heyday. It's a loaded word, often used to camouflage reservations, but here it's a positive testament to consistent craftsmanship and professionalism, of substance over surface flash. Best Of shows how the Long Ryders roped together a diverse array of influences, varied songwriter combinations with distinct touches, and a rotating set of vocalists to keep their guitar-driven rock fresh and varied. The disc leads off with singles, a move that shows the group's songwriting craftsmanship throughout because nearly every song pulls you in with a musical or vocal hook. They may not all plant themselves in your brain as easily as the near AC/DC throb of "Looking for Lewis & Clark" or the power-driving "Gunslinger Man," with its nice harmony guitar lead. But they almost all register, so that every time the songs kick in, those chorus and melody hooks come rolling back within a few seconds. A deft pop touch comes to the fore on "I Want You Bad," and "Ivory Tower" gets haunting harmony treatment when the late Gene Clark blends his voice with Steve McCarthy's lead. The varied vocal harmonies are a strong point throughout, notably on the chorus to "Man of Misery" (which gets in its share of interlocked chiming guitar licks, too), while the lovely "If I Were a Bramble and You Were a Rose" veers acoustic and offers "The essence of living is helping what grows" as an inspirational lyric. Bassist Tom Stevens takes the lead on the hard-hitting "A Stitch in Time," while the live "Capturing the Flag" was produced by a jerk (sez so in the credits). The latter and "State of My Union" offer a strong one-two punch of heartland roots rock-cum-Americana, though you wonder if the Bear Bryant reference in "Union" still resonates outside the time context (for sure, the Chuck Berry licks on this "Promised Land" variant will). "I Had a Dream" kicks forcefully as Greg Sowders' backbeat toughens things up, Stevens' fluid bass avoiding country two-step syndrome, and the guitars get themselves one rowdy-ass edge. So Mel Tillis gets rocked up a bit while the Flamin' Groovies acquire a touch of country twang – and that isn't the worst capsule summary of the Long Ryders' modus operandi you could come up with, or where and how they fit in. "Masters of War" gets turned into a Velvets-tinged dirge via Sid Griffin's vocal venom and McCarthy's searing guitar sparring sonically with Will Glenn's violin – think Bob Dylan filtered through "Venus in Furs" and you're not far off (now if they can just not get persecuted like that high-school band in Boulder). Best Of certainly fulfills all the requirements — a representative sample of highlight songs, strong performances, a personal touch in liner notes from the heartfelt (Sowders) to the often hilarious (Stevens' rules of the Long Ryders road). A good value both for old fans and as an introduction to a band that deserved more but can still put "The Long Ryders wish success and happiness to all bands" on the back cover. Solid, in a word.» (AMG)

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8 comments:

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Puzzle said...

Good post! Good description, too. I skipped listening to this when it was released, cause I thought it would just be half of Native Sons with some filler. Your extensive description has made me have a look. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Thanks!!!
Les

Dermot said...

Thanks

Bill said...

lucky enough to see these guys in DC. Very good band. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Thanks!! Great blog, bravo.

uk essay writing said...

oh, i remember them. have visited their concert in 1979. it was awesome!

writing services said...

got this CD. nice compilation. only the best their hits, nothin less. must have!!