The Long Ryders “State Of Our Union” (Cherry Red Records, 2018)

The Long Ryders’ second album, the one that opens with the powerful ‘Looking for Lewis and Clarke‘, has been given the deluxe 3-disc box set treatment for this reissue on Cherry Red Records. It hardly seems worth saying that the original album is one of the finest ever releases in the genre that didn’t yet know it was called Americana. This is the holy water sprung from the sacred source. With songs like ‘Capturing the Flag‘, ‘Good Times Tomorrow, Hard Times Today‘, the arse-kicking ‘WDIA‘ and the rock and roll boogieing title track it sounds as fine today as it did in 1985. No-one has any excuse not to own at least one copy of this album. Disc 1 is the original album, filled out with the B-sides to the album’s singles – these were in the ‘Final Wild Songs‘ box in 2016, but not to include them again here would be peculiar.

So far so good – and Disc 2 doesn’t disappoint either. It’s a full set of the demos to the album, not in the album running order, not that that matters. Demos can, often, be rather dull filler – not here. ‘Years Long Ago‘ is a gaping wound of a song, and in the demo form there’s an additional layer of raw pain. ‘WDIA‘ is perhaps a tad slower than the final version – it’s longer for sure and without the sweetening of the horn overdubs it’s a more primal groove. Disc 3 fills out the box with the 8th December 1985 Mean Fiddler gig – there’s a blend of end of tour exuberance and in the encore there’s the heartfelt weariness of the sarcastic “yeah thanks” for all the critics as Sid Griffin reads out the reviews – all of them bad.

Anything else? A 28 page booklet about the recording of the album, the coming to the UK, the tour and the big glitch of Island not pressing enough copies of the Lewis and Clarke’ single – it’s also chock full of ephemera and band photos. There’s even a mini-poster for the wall (well, maybe not).  In short – unless you happen to be one of those strange individuals who don’t subscribe to the maxim “I cannot get enough of the Long Ryders” – this generously expanded re-issue of the album is as essential as it ever was, and more so. Pitched at a price to sell – not much more than a single new album – it deserves to do so, and how.

This is the future of West Coast Rock.
10/10

Author: Jonathan Aird

Sure, I could climb high in a tree, or go to Skye on my holiday. I could be happy. All I really want is the excitement of first hearing The Byrds, the amazement of decades of Dylan's music, or the thrill of seeing a band like The Long Ryders live. That's not much to ask, is it?

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