Final Wild Songs

The Reviews

Released January 22nd, 2016, on Cherry Red Records The Long Ryders four CD box set is entitled Final Wild Songs, this is THE definitive Long Ryders collection.

In 2016 the band completed a two week tour Europe; twelve concerts, two radio sessions, four countries, and five flights by a quartet of very happy musicians.

Offers have come in for the Long Ryders to play later this year both Down Under and on the east coast of the USA. Please watch this space for more developments…the band is thrilled at the enthusiasm of their fans.

Cherry Red Records announced that as well as selling out its initial run the Final Wild Songs box set was their single biggest selling item in the first quarter of 2016. Uncork the champagne!

Read some of the press reviews of both the Final Wild Songs box set and Final Wild Sons Tour below...

The 4CD Box Set Contents
 Classic Rock Magazine Review 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 - Read the complete review

Americana UK Review of Final Wild Songs

"...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."

Americana UK - Read the complete review

 Uncut Magazine Review of Final Wild Songs

"...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."

Uncut Magazine - Read the complete review

 Mojo Magazine Review of Final Wild Songs

"…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."

Mojo Magazine - Read the complete review

 NPR Review of Final Wild Songs

" 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."

Meredith Ochs, NPR - Listen to the full review

 Shindig Magazine Review of Final Wild Songs

"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."

Shindig - Read the complete review

 Record Collector Magazine Review of Final Wild Songs

"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."

Record Collector - Read the complete review

 All Music Guide Review of Final Wild Songs

"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 - Read the complete review

 Louder Than War Review of Final Wild Songs

"…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 - Read the complete review

 PopMatters Review of Final Wild Songs

"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."

PopMatters - Read the complete review

 The Big Takeover Review of Final Wild Songs

"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 - Read the complete review

 RUTA 66 Review of Final Wild Songs

" 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?"

RUTA 66 - Read the complete review

Final Wild SonGs Tour

The Reviews

Bristol24/7 Final Wild Sons Tour Review

"Whilst they may be a little older in the tooth and a little more static on stage – stately shape throwing from Stephen McCarthy (lead guitar n vox) and the odd Elvis shimmy and pelvis shake & knee drop from Griffin – the band have lost nothing in terms of musical ability and passion, and if anything they’re playing better than ever. Greg Sowders (drums) was resplendent in a Casey Jones hat and his choice of tifter was entirely appropriate as he drove the set like a freight train. Powerful, relentless and entirely free from any hint of showboating, his beats beautifully economic and the ideal foundation for the band’s rowdy rock n roll. Tom Stevens on bass was subdued, only taking one lead vocal (A Stitch in Time) but his bass was excellent throughout, like his rhythm partner a fat-free lean and muscular performance."

The set list was immaculately chosen, cuts from each of the three LPs, well-paced and giving plenty of opportunity for the band to show their chops; the songs had plenty of nods to their influences but no shameless rip offs or pastiches. Gunslinger Man hefty (and one couldn’t help but think of the idiot Trump for the duration of the tune); Ivory Tower – dedicated to Gene Clark – full of jangle and eliciting a huge audience singalong whilst Looking for Lewis and Clark was loud, leery and raucous and (Sweet) Mental Revenge hit that country sweet spot. Good Times Tomorrow, Hard Times Today found Griffin asking band and crowd whether or not he’d sung the second verse as the band just about managed to salvage the song as we all roared with laughter at Griffin’s honest admittance of memory loss. But it was that kind of night – band and crowd totally in sync and grooving on music that was both laden with nostalgia and yet totally contemporary (where would any of the alt-country / Americana bands be without the trail blazed by the Long Ryders and Jason & the Scorchers?).

The band gave us a breakneck ninety minute set in total, Griffin an amiable and amusing front man (“…we can’t afford roadies so all of this chat is to distract you from the fact that the band are tuning up while you look at me…”); fighting technical difficulties – his effects board went south early in the set but brute force and ignorance brought it back into play and the pleasure he & the band took in the show was palpable. Admitting his voice was shredded Griffin concluded the set and the band (with the exception of Stevens) hit the merch for a lengthy chat (or whisper in Griffin’s case) with the audience. With the band on this form it would be a crime if they were to miss an opportunity to get back in the studio, crank out some new material and claim some of the success they richly deserve.

Bristol24/7 - Read the complete review

Bristol Post Final Wild Sons Tour Review

"For a band that only released three studio albums between 1983 and 1987, The Long Ryders have left a long and enduring influence on music, writes Mark Taylor.

Regarded as the pioneers of alternative country, the Californian band emerged from the post-punk, psychedelic-tinged 'Paisley Underground' scene in Los Angeles, forging elements of punk with late '60s bands like Buffalo Springfield and The Byrds to create their own hybrid of contemporary country rock. At their peak in the UK, they sold out some of the biggest venues (I still remember their brilliant show at Bristol's now-closed Studio in 1985) but never really gained the commercial success they deserved.

Since reforming in 2004, the band have only played intermittent gigs and they returned to the Fleece on the first night of a short and rare visit to the UK - their first in 12 years.With no new material, The Long Ryders have never diluted their legacy and this was very much a 'greatest hits' set to coincide with the release of Final Wild Songs, a career-spanning four-CD box set.

Although Griffin has always been the focal point and engine room of The Long Ryders, it's the more reserved figure of McCarthy who provides the more melodic side to the band. It's easy to forget what a superb guitarist he is and his soft, haunting vocals on Ivory Tower, I Had A Dream and Lights of Downtown were high points of the 90-minute set. Griffin's chiming, jangling Rickenbacker came to the fore on crowd-pleasers like I Want You Bad, Tell It To The Judge on Sunday and Gunslinger Man (dedicated to a journalist in the audience), but it was the band's best-known single, Looking For Lewis and Clark, that generated a mass singalong just as Griffin's sore throat was starting to trouble him.

"See you in another 15 years by the wheelchair ramp," quipped the 60-year-old singer, but hopefully The Long Ryders will climb back into the saddle much sooner than that.

Bristol Post - Read the complete review

 Louder Than War Final Wild Sons Tour Review

"Most of the shows of the tour have been sold out and the impression the band gave at Under The Bridge was one of genuine appreciation for the welcome they received after their twelve year absence from the UK.

“The Light Gets In The Way” was aired in a very Jayhawks-ish version with some excellent harmonica playing courtesy of Sid. As we were nearing the end of the show, the band stepped up a gear performing some of their most famous tracks. The anthemic cover of NRBQ’s “I Want You Bad” was followed by what is considered the band’s greatest numbers “I Had A Dream”. The instrumental part at the end of the song providing another spine-tingling moment in a gig that had many, why the song wasn’t a massive hit when it was released still remains a complete mystery."

Louder Than War - Read the complete review

Event Industry News Final Wild Sons Tour Review

"Unlike so many reunion tours, where drawn out banter/breathers between every song can crush the dream, the Long Ryders rip through their catalogue, the three songwriters, lead guitarist Steven McCarthy, Stevens and rhythmist/”point man” Sid Griffin sharing vocal duties.

The run of consecutive dates from Spain to the UK, ahead of the London leg, had taken its toll on Griffin’s throat, Sowders warned me, but the performance, and the sell-out crowd’s rapturous response, proved a perfect cure. From opener Run Dusty Run to scorching closer Looking For Lewis and Clark, the Long Ryders gave it everything, passion, and politics, undimmed. Griffin’s Rickenbacker still bears the Coal Not Dole sticker I spotted when I first saw them 30 years ago and the perception/education/persuasion of the songs hasn’t aged a bit. ‘Sure they’re closing up the factory, they’re closing up the town, I’ve heard there’s jobs in Corbin, we’d better look around’ (Two Kinds Of Love).

Event Industry News - Read the complete review Final Wild Sons Tour Review

"The band look no older than they did on their last visit to Whelans and played with the same ageless energy - though by the end of the set Sid Griffin’s voice was showing the signs of singing over an electric band rather than the acoustic tones of his regular band The Coal Porters - The Long Ryders are Greg Sowders on drums, Stephen McCarthy on lead Telecaster and vocals, Tom Stevens on bass and vocals and Sid Griffin on guitar and harmonica. With all three handling lead vocals and harmonies the songs were varied and interesting. The majority were uptempo powerhouses but there were also a couple of slower songs to balance the set. There is always the danger that a legendary band can disappoint in a live setting and though there was a rough edge to the sound the overall effect was solidly steadfast.

The latter part of the set had a tendency towards twang while mid set once Griffin had strapped on the Rickenbacker for Ivory Tower there was that distinctive Byrds-style jangle that was very welcome. With Sid conducting the audience readily joined in the songs chorus on que. There was a degree of deadpan humour from Sid throughout. He noted how the music played as a band came on stage was cut once they came onstage ready or not. At one point as the band refined the stage sound there was a request from more kick (drum) upfront to which Sid rejoined “And I could use a kick up the rear”.

When the band came onstage for the trio of encores songs they requested that the audience smile while they took photos from the stage. This was the last date so they gave the show as much as they could and the audience gave it back. As Sid left the stage he told them that he loved everyone here and that if anyone knew broadcaster John Kelly (who couldn’t make the show) to tell him, no matter what they thought, that it was a great evening. No need to lie it was a special one from a band who never really got there due but have left a live and recorded legacy that is testament to their worth. That, my friends, is the state of this union." - Read the complete review

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“one of rock’s great undiscovered bands like the Flamin’ Groovies and Big Star... Native Sons remains definitive.” Stewart Lee

“Sid Griffin's troupe mixed bold, in-yer-face country-rock with the intense love of 60's styling and an equal case for reclaiming it as something new and vital.” Properganda

“The Long Ryders didn't so much as blaze a trail as napalm it... Everything is fresh enough to have been recorded yesterday and puts most of todays bands to shame.” Americana-UK

“This timely anthology might just help to finally set the record straight: The Long Ryders made some of the best rock and roll of the early '80s.” PopMatters

“Few bands have made more of an impact on the current musical scene.” Classic Rock

“Mutton-chopped, suede fringe jacketed, hardcore country kings of the Paisley Underground.” Mojo