The Reviews Are In…
Well, at least some of them are.
Majestic four-disc anthology of studio recordings and rarities.
…The dual guitars of Sid Griffin and Stephen McCarthy lead the gallop, the band marauding through unstoppable tunes such as And She Rides and Final Wild Son.
Yet there was also something deeper and richer about the Long Ryders, pooling soul, psychedelia and folk into a broader quest to redress the balance of Regan’s gung-ho vision of modern America…
Alas, despite magnificent singles like Looking For Lewis and Clark and Gunslinger Man, the Long Ryders never enjoyed the commercial crossover they deserved.
Scotland Daily Express:
One of those criminally undervalued bands that are only now getting the proper recognition for their canon of work, Sid Griffin, Stephen McCarthy, Barry Shank and Greg Sowders probably invented alt.country or Americana, or whatever you want to dub the current crop of music unafraid to twang.
…Another ad, the one that attracted singer and guitarist Stephen McCarthy, proposed a merger of Buffalo Springfield and The Clash.
Over four albums released between 1983 and 1987, The Long Ryders made good on all of that, being both musically diverse and singular in their intentions. They were country, and punk, and rock’n’roll. They did foot-on-the-floor boogie, Cajun, a bit of psychedelic rock. They wore their fringes like Rodger McGuinn. They were Tom Petty without the heartbreak.
…By the time Native Sons arrived on Frontier (home of Circle Jerks, Suicidal Tendencies) under a year later, The Long Ryders had found their garage country groove. For all the Chuck Berry-meets-Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream boogie of opener Final Wild Son, Gene Clarke was never far away from their minds: he even provided backing vocals on Ivory Tower…
…The Long Ryders may not have birthed Americana, but unknown even to them at the time, they were both midwife and incubator.
All Music Guide:
If they fell short of genuine stardom, the Long Ryders more than made a difference during their 1981-1987 lifetime, particularly in their influence on the alt-country movement, which would spread like wildfire not long after they broke up. Nearly everything you need to know about the band can be found on Final Wild Songs, a four-CD box set that collects their debut EP, 1983’s 10-5-60, and their three studio albums…
…But Final Wild Songs makes it clear this combo’s music has endured because they were a truly great rock & roll band, full of snap and fervent energy. The guitar interplay between Sid Griffin and Stephen McCarthy was pure jangly bliss, and bassist Tom Stevens and drummer Greg Sowders held the tunes together with fire, precision, and outsized personality. The Long Ryders knew when to play moody and subtle, but they could also rock out with ferocious joy, and “Looking for Lewis and Clark” still sounds like an anthem worth marching to 30 years after the fact. Final Wild Songs includes song-by-song notes from the group’s members, and their often witty remarks point to how much the Long Ryders cared about music as well as the world around them.
Louder Than War:
…a full live disc from 1985 shows the band on top form, shorn of their “hits”, it helps you realise why they were such a hot live ticket. There are a lot of versions of material that featured on the first few records, but the live treatment suits them, they sound like a band on a mission to play the kind of music that had no truck with the niceties or the shallow dressing up games of the early 80s, but instead relied on raw honesty, whole-hearted playing and above all passion. It finishing with a rocking version of “Tell It To The Judge On Sunday” which shreds the LP version.
It’s a fitting end to a thorough career retrospective of a band that polarised attitudes at the time but stuck to their guns and were very much the real deal as concerned roots rock n roll at a time when so many empty but fashionable chancers were about.
Talk about the American underground music scene of the early ‘80s and you’ll maybe get misty-eyed reminiscences of seeing R.E.M. in a college frat-house basement or the Replacements in I-forget-the-name-a-that dive bar, or you’ll hear ponderings on the universal influence of the Dream Syndicate or Hüsker Dü. But you won’t often hear mention of the Long Ryders, and that’s a damn shame, because they were a central band in all that mix and, but for some dumb luck and, frankly, naivety on the part of the underground music audience of the time, the band would rightly be acknowledged for their own influence and the fine body of work they left behind.
Final Wild Songs gathers all of the Long Ryders’ formal releases along with a trove of demos, unreleased, and live cuts, culminating in the fourth CD’s blistering live set recorded in the Netherlands during their first overseas tour in 1985. Of particular interest to longtime fans, though in retrospect a rightful source of regret, are the songs “He Can Hear His Brother Calling”, Ring Bells”, and “Basic Black”, all of which would have been featured on the next Long Ryders album had the band not called it quits in 1987. By the evidence of these songs, that album would have been killer.
…Maybe time will be kinder to the Long Ryders than their own decade was. In the years since the band’s end Sid Griffin has become a music journalist of note while Stephen McCarthy has collaborated with Steve Wynn in a number of projects, notably the ‘90s band Gutterball. Their work deserves to be discovered by a new generation of music fans and should be re-embraced by those who heard it the first time around. Cherry Red’s done us all a favour by making this stuff available again.
The band will be touring in support of this set’s release. If they hit your town, I’d recommend you check them out. It promises to be a great show. Hell, buy the guys a beer if you get the chance. They’ve earned it.
Read the complete reviews below (Right click and open them in a new window if the print is too small.) If you’ve come across a review which we don’t have listed here, please do let us know.
Everything else you might need to know about Final Wild Songs is on the all new Long Ryders website at TheLongRyders.com