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.
Order Final Wild Songs now via
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.
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.
Listen to Sid Griffin speaking to Mark Radcliffe and Stuart Maconie on BBC 6 Music about The Long Ryders, their formation in LA in the early 80s and the release of Final Wild Songs.
"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."
Classic Rock Magazine
"...The Long Ryders produced three full length albums - "Native Sons", "State of our Union" and "Two Fisted Tales" - alongside EPs and single releases. And all are here in full, along with a heap of remixes, live recordings, including "Looking for Lewis & Clark" from their appearance on Whistle Test (the Old and the Grey having been dropped by this point for the young and the hip), B-sides and so forth. Much of this is never before released so it doesn't just duplicate the material on the fairly recent expanded reissues of "Native Sons" and "State of our Union" although inevitably there is some overlap...
So, that's who they were and what you get in the "Final Wild Songs" box , but is it any good? Do I have to come right out and say it? Sit yourself down and get listening because this is truly glorious. Sure, sure, not every single song is total genius - Sid comments that "Never Got To Meet the Mom" was cited as the worst song ever written by someone who requested it at a Coal Porters gig. It isn’t that bad. For every song that was not total genius there's a song like "Ivory Tower" (which just happens to feature Gene Clark), the finest Byrds song that the Byrds never did - and yes I do include American Girl in that comparison - which captures that sonic and lyrical clarity of the original line-up's finest moments. "Run Dusty Run" and "Tell it to The Judge on Sunday" are classic rockers whilst the cover of "(Sweet) Mental Revenge" tips the hat to the Burritos whilst remaining true to The Long Ryders. And this is just cherry picking disc one. "State of Our Union" was a superb second album, a start to finish pleasure and "Two fisted Tales" was in no way lesser - "Gunslinger Man" is the Long Ryders take on a political murder ballad, "Harriet Tubman's Gonna Carry Me Home" is a definitive Americana track.
So of course this box set is an absolute essential purchase, even if one already has the original albums - even in their expanded forms. The Long Ryders were truly the cream of the crop of the so-called Paisley Underground. They rocked. They were sly. They took a stance against stuff they just did not agree with. If, by some simple twist of fate, you don't happen to have any Long Ryders albums...hard to imagine I know...then start right here - you won't regret it."
"...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."
In their short career, The Long Ryders developed considerable songwriting chops. From their raw but promising debut EP through three full-length albums, the band solidified as a musical unit, and their lyrics became more political, an oblique response to being a young gun in Reagan-era America.
The place where The Long Ryders were at their best was onstage. And this new collection offers a number of previously unreleased performances. Not only is it a reminder of how scorching their live shows were, but it also captures the bands utterly charming, goofy side. On this track, singer and guitarist Sid Griffin reads bad music reviews written about them while the rest of the band vamps. It's basically an '80s version of a mean tweet...
...If you drew a straight line from The Byrds through Wilco, you'd intersect the Long Ryders right in the middle. But that's only part of what makes this band essential listening. The true test of music is time. And this music sounds as good and as relevant now as it did three decades ago."
"The Long Ryders burst out of LA's celebrated Paisley Underground scene that also witnessed the birth or The Bangles, The Three O'Clock and The Rain Parade. Whereas their compadres took their cues from Love, Big Star, early Byrds and The Mamas & The Papas, The Long Ryders looked back to Buffalo Springfield, CCR and even farther into the heart of country, to Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard, influences they infected with an alternative LA spirit and the odd Joe Strummer-esque snarl.
...this is a crack shot collection that shows how the bull got into the paisley, and a fine summation of some singular country devils at play in The City Of Angels."
"The title might suggest an old tape found under someone's bed thats been dusted down but don't be fooled - this is the complete package. Over four discs and 76 tracks...
The collection is nothing less than joyous, from rip roaring country covers such as (Sweet) Mental Revenge to own-brand anarchy (Harriet Tubman's Going To Carry Me Home). The classic line-up (Sid Griffin, Stephen McCarthy, Tom Stevens and Greg Sowders) were way ahead of the Americana and alt-country movement with their drawled harmonies and crashing, twanging guitars and still sound as if they could conquer the world today - they ride back into town for dates in spring. Griffin (now a Londoner) and Stevens oversaw this impressive box-set and wrote the engaging track-by-track history in the photo-packed book."
"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."
All Music Guide
"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."
Scotland Daily Express
The full tracklising of Final Wild Songs
DISC ONE 1983-1984
- ORIGINAL 10/5/60 EP
- 1. JOIN MY GANG
- 2. YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT’S RIGHT…
- 3. 10/5/60
- 4. AND SHE RIDES
- 5. BORN TO BELIEVE IN YOU
- NATIVE SONS
- 6. FINAL WILD
- 7. IVORY TOWER
- 8. RUN DUSTY RUN
- 9. (SWEET) MENTAL REVENGE
- 10. FAIR GAME
- 11. TELL IT TO THE JUDGE ON SUNDAY
- 12. WRECK OF THE 809
- 13. TOO CLOSE TO THE LIGHT
- 14. NEVER GOT TO MEET THE MOM
- 15. I HAD A DREAM
- 16. MASTERS OF WAR
- 17. BLACK GIRL - acoustic May-June 1984
- 18. WRECK OF THE 809 - acoustic May-June 1984
- 19. FURTHER ALONG - acoustic May-June 1984
- 20. THE RAINS CAME - CBGBs April 1984
- 21. YOU CAN'T JUDGE A BOOK BY THE COVER - West End, Chicago Nov 1984
DISC TWO - 1985
- STATE OF OUR UNION
- 1. LOOKING FOR LEWIS AND CLARK
- 2. LIGHTS OF DOWNTOWN
- 3. WDIA
- 4. MASON-DIXON LINE
- 5. HERE COMES THAT TRAIN AGAIN
- 6. YEARS LONG AGO
- 7. GOOD TIMES TOMORROW, HARD TIMES TODAY
- 8. TWO KINDS OF LOVE
- 9. YOU CAN'T RIDE THE BOXCARS ANYMORE
- 10. CAPTURING THE FLAG
- 11. STATE OF MY UNION
- 12. SOUTHSIDE OF THE STORY
- 13. CHILD BRIDE
- 14. IF I WERE A BRAMBLE AND YOU WERE A ROSE
- 15. LOOKING FOR LEWIS AND CLARK - OGWT
- 16. LIGHTS OF DOWNTOWN - Captain's mix, Island Studios
- 17. CAPTURING THE FLAG - Captain's mix, Island Studios
- 18. CHRISTMAS IN NEW ZEALAND - State of Our Union
- 19. ENCORE FROM HELL
DISC THREE - 1986
- TWO FISTED TALES
- 1. GUNSLINGER MAN
- 2. I WANT YOU BAD
- 3. A STITCH IN TIME
- 4. THE LIGHT GETS IN THE WAY
- 5. PRAIRIE FIRE
- 6. BABY’S IN TOYLAND
- 7. LONG STORY SHORT
- 8. MAN OF MISERY
- 9. HARRIET TUBMAN'S GONNA CARRY ME HOME
- 10. FOR THE REST OF MY DAYS
- 11. SPECTACULAR FALL
- 12. RING BELLS
- 13. 17 WAYS
- 14. BASIC BLACK
- 15. PUSHIN' UPHILL
- 16. HOW DO WE FEEL WHAT'S REAL
- 17. HE'S GOT HIMSELF A YOUNG GIRL (AND HE CAN'T KEEP UP)
- 16. HOW DO WE FEEL WHAT'S REAL
- 18. HE CAN HEAR HIS BROTHER CALLING
- 19. SAD SAD SONGS
- 20. FLAK JACKET
- 21. BLUES THEME
DISC FOUR - LIVE 1985
- LIVE 'T BEEST, GOES, THE NETHERLANDS
- 1. MASON DIXON LINE
- 2. TIME KEEPS TRAVELING
- 3. (SWEET) MENTAL REVENGE
- 4. RUN DUSTY RUN
- 5. YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT'S RIGHT…
- 6. AS GOD IS MY WITNESS
- 7. IVORY TOWER
- 8. I CAN’T HIDE
- 9. MASTERS OF WAR
- 10. WRECK OF THE 809
- 11. GOOD TIMES TOMORROW, HARD TIMES TODAY
- 12. SIX DAYS ON THE ROAD
- 13. SOUTHSIDE OF THE STORY
- 14. STILL GET BY
- 15. TELL IT TO THE JUDGE ON SUNDAY
"…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."
Louder Than War
"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."
"The Long Ryders were an underrated group with country, folk rock, and even punk roots that hailed from Los Angeles via the South. Featuring excellent instrumental and vocal work from leader Sid Griffin and Stephen McCarthy, the group also included Greg Sowders (drums), Barry Shank/Des Brewer (bass), and finally Tom Stevens on bass. During their heyday, the group produced three LPs, several EPs, and a smattering of singles that defined their alt-country-fried folk rock sound. Resident in those golden licks were traces of Bob Dylan, The Byrds, The Clash, Buffalo Springfield, The Everly Brothers, and The Beach Boys. They were also a mainstay in The Paisley Underground movement, along with Green on Red, The Dream Syndicate, and Rain Parade.
By any measure, this was a band ahead of its time, and this box set is long overdue and welcome."
The Big Takeover
Junto con The Dream Syndicate, abanderaron aquella escena denominada Paisley Underground - Nueve Rock Americano, en España -, preconizando una vuelta a las races de la musica americana, aquella que definieron The Byrds, Gram Parsons, buffalo Springfield y The Flying Burrito Brothers.
Los responsables, los guitarristas Sid Griffin y Stephen McCarthy, no solo se desenvolvian con cualquier instrumento, además sabian estructuar las canciones con pinceladas de punk, cajun y psicodelia, adelantándose unos años a lo que luego la prensa calificó como alt-country.
Sin ellos,bandas como Unclue Tupelo no hubiesen existido Sinteticemos: The Long Ryders fueron el puente entre el country-rock y el americana.
De corta existencia - de 1984 a 1987 - pero prolificos, dejaron cuarto excepcionales álbumes de estudio que cualquier lector de esta revista deberia tener obligatoriamente en sus estanterias. Con la habitual meticulosidad con la que Cherry Red realiza sus reediciones, la caja contiene además de los metcionados elepés, descartes, tomas alternativas, versiones acústicas y un concierto integro en Holanda en abril de 1985. Si todavia no te has puesto cachondo, incluye un generoso libreto de 24 páginas en el que Sid Griffin respa una las más de sesenta canciones y un desplegable con fotos inéditas y demás memorabilia. ¿Quien fue el imbécil que dijo que en los ochenta no se hizo música buena?"
Order Final Wild Songs now via