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I'm the co-host of THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO with Dana & Carl (Sunday nights, 9 to Midnight Eastern, www.westcottradio.org).  As a freelance writer, I contributed to Goldmine magazine from 1986-2006, wrote liner notes for Rhino Records' compilation CD Poptopia!  Power Pop Classics Of The '90s, and for releases by The Flashcubes, The Finkers, Screen Test, 1.4.5., and Jack "Penetrator" Lipton.  I contributed to the books Bubblegum Music Is The Naked Truth, Shake Some Action, Lost In The Grooves, and MusicHound Rock, and to DISCoveries, Amazing Heroes, The Comics Buyer's Guide, Yeah Yeah Yeah, Comics Collector, The Buffalo News, and The Syracuse New Times.  I also wrote the liner notes for the four THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO compilation CDs, because, well, who could stop me?  My standing offer to write liner notes for a Bay City Rollers compilation has remained criminally ignored.  Still intend to write and sell a Batman story someday.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017


My review of The Long Ryders Anthology appeared in the April 23, 1999 issue of Goldmine.

The Long Ryders Anthology
PolyGram Chronicles (314 558 280-2)

Like many a band before them, The Long Ryders were done in by that demon alcohol. Not in the sense that any of its bandmembers succumbed to overindulgence, but in the sense that a TV commercial the group did for Miller Beer in the mid '80s effectively torpedoed their perceived credibility in the shallow, callous eyes of the image-conscious indie rock scene. The group never made it big and eventually broke up.

Okay, it probably wasn't really as simple as that. But, whatever the reason, it's a shame that The Long Ryders never achieved their due, because this band should have been huge. Formed by a pair of refugees from L.A. retro-'60s punks The Unclaimed, The Long Ryders were perhaps the first post-punk rock 'n' roll band to establish an overt link with traditional country roots, channeled partially (not totally) through Gram Parsons' work with The Byrds in the '60s. The Long Ryders were, furthermore, an incredible band, always willing to acknowledge their roots but never content to limit themselves to the role of mere revivalists.

This two-disc set performs the public service of returning The Long Ryders to domestic retail shelves, anthologizing the group's short career for the benefit of all Americans (and others, too). The set begins with all five tracks from the group's 1983 debut EP. 10-5-60, commencing with the savage punk of its title tune. From there, the wyld ryde is on, running through selections from throughout the group's recorded legacy, bolstered by scattered demo versions, previously-unreleased covers of Bob Dylan ("Masters Of War") and The Flamin' Groovies ("I Can't Hide"), a tune from a Christmas flexi-disc, non-LP B-sides, and a live version of Neil Young's "Prisoners Of Rock 'n' Roll" that provides the set with an appropriate coda.

Along the way, we're treated to a crash course in what should have been standard radio fare in the '80s. The Long Ryders' recordings project an image of a cantankerous, rebellious band with a good nature and a good heart. Tracks such as "10-5-60," "Join My Gang," "Run Dusty Run," "Mel Tillis' (via The Flying Burrito Brothers) "(Sweet) Mental Revenge," and "I Had A Dream" are rock-solid exercises, while "I'll Get Out Somehow" is straight-forward, traditional country. Selections from the group's near-breakthrough album State Of Our Union--particularly "Lights Of Downtown," "Capturing The Flag," and "Looking For Lewis And Clark" (heard here in a longer version than the original LP)--demonstrate how richly deserving of success this group was by the time of that damned beer commercial.

Tracks from the group's final album, 1987's Two Fisted Tales, are supplemented by a slew of unreleased demos from the same era. Of the demo songs, only the invigorating "Harriet Tubman's Gonna Carry Me Home" was completed and used on Two Fisted Tales, which means we've got a treasure trove of six "new" Long Ryders tunes for true believers. A lovely essay from David Fricke completes this very nice package. And here's to some enterprising label undertaking a comprehensive Long Ryders reissue program, returning each of the original albums to stores. Who's with us?

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