Guest Blog: Ginger’s Secret History Of Rock’n'Roll (Pt.2)
The Wildhearts’ mainman on another overlooked classic from the 80s.
THE LONG RYDERS
‘State Of Our Union’
As the 80s continued to churn out derivative, soulless, flaccid garbage to base level standard consumerist drones lured in with promises of bright colours and funky hair-dos, meanwhile, somewhere deep underground, incredible bands, like LA’s The Long Ryders, although critically ignored, nonetheless spoke to music connoisseurs like Moses on the mount.
Mixing The Byrds’ Rickenbacker jangle, the Flying Burrito Brothers’ sense of melody and harmony, Gram Parsons’ wayward spirit and The Clash‘s energy, Sid Griffin’s alt. country precursors (by a full ten years) The Long Ryders spoke of family pride and backwoods tradition in a manner not yet delivered to a largely unworthy public.
Although sharing vocals duties, it was always Griffin’s cantankerous and sardonic delivery that stood out as chief voice, and on the first song of this, their second full length album, Sid compliments the sub Sham/Iggy riff of ‘Looking For Lewis And Clark’ with wonderfully canine vocal performance, carving out an instant classic and one of the most underrated songs of any generation.
From this awesome introduction to the duelling leads of stunning last track ‘State Of My Union’, the sheer quality of songwriting and purity of performance never gives pause for criticism throughout the duration of this awesome album.
Stephen McCarthy’s thrilling guitar work suggests pedal steel riffs technically impossible to play on guitar, while rhythmic thrust of Griffin, Greg Sowders (drums) and Tom Stevens (bass) keep this train trundling along on a tight schedule. WDIA weaves gently before the ocean while Here Comes That Train Again hints at sadness and longing, until You Just Can’t Ride The Boxcars Anymore kicks the party back in with McCarthy’s most astounding finger work of the album, leaving no confusion as to why The Jayhawks were happy to enlist his services in 2003.
As great and energetic a live band as they were (and they truly were, all swinging basin haircuts and Sid Griffin’s awkwardly majestic mid-air leaps) The Long Ryders were one of a rare breed of bands able to effortlessly recreate the energy and passion in the studio. Although the slightly tinny production runs occasionally at odds with today’s testosterone-packed production values, there have been few performances since as purely thrilling and authentic as those displayed in State Of Our Union. An amazing listen and one that deserves your patience and attention.
Raise a beer at those rebel yells, thrill to the singers’ howls, swoon before the sweet melody and roll around on its fur rug of musical quality.
Some of America’s greatest crimes were committed in 80s and almost all were musical. And while we gorged on Huey Lewis And The News, Survivor and Billy Ocean, the pallets of the world continued to be starved and ignorant to such fine fare as The Long Ryders, Lone Justice and Jason & the Scorchers. And no album came closer to the pioneering indie spirit of underground 80s roots music than State Of Our Union. Amen brother.
Come back next Friday for another from Ginger’s back catalogue.