Last year, Stan Ridgway fans were treated to a wealth of music releases.
Although best known for such 1980s and early '90s college/modern rock radio staples as "Mexican Radio" and "Ring of Fire" (with Wall of Voodoo), "Calling Out to Carol," "Goin' Southbound" and "I Wanna Be a Boss," the SoCal master of noirish folk and alt-rock continues to put out intriguing new material.
Case in point: Mr. Trouble (A440) where Ridgway is ably assisted by usual cohorts Pietra Wexstun, Rick King, Bruce Zelesnik, Ralph Carney and others in the studio. He delves into some cool jazz during "The Drowning Man" and gets a fine old school R&B groove going on "All Too Much" (both contain prominent sax work).
Then there's the beautiful "Across the Border," colored by piano and horns; the title track and "Gone Deep Underground" hark back to vintage solo Ridgway with harmonica, shimmering electric guitar and deep warped vocals. Among the concert cuts is the old classic "Camouflage." Definitely recommended.
A limited edition version of Black Diamond (Berden), Ridgway's 1995 solo album, also came out for the first time on double vinyl plus bonus tracks.
It is highlighted by “Big Dumb Town,” a striking cover of Dylan’s “As I Went Out One Morning” and “Luther Played Guitar,” a tip of the hat to Johnny Cash band member Luther Perkins.Previously unreleased songs are "Here for the Long Run," "The Need," "Squintin’ at the Sun," "Birdcage Records [Live]" and "Crystal Palace."
Ridgway's stellar 1986 debut solo album The Big Heat (Water Records) was also just given the expanded reissue treatment. Esteemed rock critic Greil Marcus once described it in a review as "the most compelling portrait of American social life to appear on a rock 'n roll record since Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska."
And it still stands up today, with several memorable songs like the haunting title track, tensely wound "Drive She Said," Vietnam story "Camouflage" and "Salesman." Mike Watt (Stooges, fIREHOSE, Minutemen), Hugo Burnham (Gang of Four) and future producer extraordinaire Mitchell Froom are among the studio musicians. Bonus material consists of instrumental "Rio Greyhound," "Stormy Side of Town," "Foggy River," "End of the Line" and a great take on Chuck Berry's "Nadine."
Stan Ridgway plays the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano, 8 p.m. Jan. 17, $15.