Bassist Tom Stevens left no stone unturned for the Long Ryders' first-ever box set. Final Wild Songs took more than two years to create, starting with the lengthy research, then trawling and begging for old tickets, photos, and posters, then searching for long forgotten tape reels, as well as the getting clearances for all this memorabilia. It proved to be a job not for the fainthearted. After Cherry Red’s Steve Hammond kick-started the idea, band members Tom Stevens and Sid Griffin certainly had their work cut out for them.
In a little over a year, the dynamic duo had the box set's music selections accounted for and then cleaned up by ace British remastering engineer Andy Pearce. Sid and Tom went over the tracklisting again and again and again. There were a couple of late additions and a pair of substitutions as well, these four recently found recordings strengthening Final Wild Songs no end. These changes meant Andy Pearce was called back for another round of remastering.
Great Britain's best graphic artist, the great Phil Smee, came in to do the artwork. Phil Smee is the fellow responsible for the iconic Motorhead logo and has done art for more than 3,000 LPs, CDs, single sleeves, books (both hardback and paperback), and posters in his impressive career. Getting Mr. Smee on board proved an inspired choice as did his subsequent use of a Long Ryders photo by their dear friend, the legendary Henry Diltz, for the front cover.
The first three CDs contain a total of 61 studio recordings by the Long Ryders. Disc one contains the 10-5-60 EP and most of the Native Sons album. It ends with five previously unreleased live recordings. Disc two is for the State Of Our Union LP and ends with three B-sides, the live version of Looking For Lewis & Clark from the Whistle Test BBC TV show in October 1985, two Nick Stewart remixes for the followup single to Looking For Lewis & Clark, and finally two of the band’s immortal flex-disc releases, Christmas In New Zealand and Encore From Hell.
Disc three is devoted to the band's studio swan song, Two-Fisted Tales, Sid's fave Long Ryders album. The last nine songs on it are demos, tracks recorded for the followup LP to Two-Fisted Tales which was never completed as the band broke up (Island Records, we can do that album for you now if you wish). Some of these tracks were briefly released in the USA, none of them have been released in Europe or Asia.
Yet the fourth and final disc proves to be Tom Stevens' great discovery when doing research. It is a scorching performance recorded in March 1985 in Benelux for a live radio show. As it was only broadcast twice, the rest of the band soon forgot about it. Tom did not. Fifteen smokin' tracks audibly prove the Long Ryders were an in-concert powerhouse. Several of the songs like As God Is My Witness, Tell It To The Judge On Sunday and their startlingly modal cover of Bob Dylan’s Masters Of War have never been on a live album by the band. But they are now.
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Final Wild Songs illustrates once and for all that what writer/comedian Stewart Lee once said is completely true, "...the Long Ryders truly are one of rock’s great undiscovered bands like the Flamin’ Groovies and Big Star". This is proof. Dig in, there is a feast for your ears here.