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Signed to (then) hip indie label Frontier the band recorded their debut LP Native Sons with the late, great Henry Lewy producing. Lewy had worked with the Flying Burrito Brothers on their classic Gilded Palace Of Sin LP as well as with the Association, Barbara Streisand and Van Morrison. Lewy had enjoyed a long, fruitful studio partnership with Joni Mitchell. Together the Long Ryders and Lewy came up with an album called “a modern American classic” by Melody Maker and soon found themselves on the cover of the New Musical Express as well as playing live on the BBC’s Whistle Test TV show.
After touring the USA for much of 1984 Europe was theirs for the taking in March/April 1985. Sold out gig followed sold out gig and the band were second only to The Smiths in the alternative charts of the day. (They remain second to the Smiths even now.) Signed to Island Records in early summer the band released the album State Of Our Union in September 1985 and soon found themselves number one in the College Radio/Alternative charts for four weeks running in their native land. Their single “Looking For Lewis & Clark” crashed into the charts and became their signature song.
The following year was spent consolidating their success. In America REM told them “soon as we get through making the Replacements famous you guys are next!”, in Spain they headlined a Barcelona festival to over 100,000 which was broadcast live on national radio, in Canada the Toronto Daily Mail called them “the best thing to happen to roots rock since The Band”, in Italy they played eighteenth century opera houses and gave press conferences as if heads of state and in Great Britain The Long Ryders were considered family to their fans and a breath of fresh air to the UK’s rock critics.
After a spring tour to work out new songs The Long Ryders released Two-Fisted Tales in early summer 1987. Produced by Ramones/Smithereens whiz Ed Stasium, it gave them a radio turntable hit with “I Want You Bad” and the touring began again. U2 asked them to open shows on the North American wing of their Joshua Tree tour and the high life beckoned.
Alas it was not to be. Bassist Tom Stevens left the road to be with his young family in August and by Christmas Stephen McCarthy left to write musicials. Island asked Messers. Griffin and Sowders for another album but without their old compadres their hearts were not in it and they foolishly if honorably declined. (Griffin and Sowders will happily make Island that album now if they are still interested. Call us!)
Since then The Long Ryders have graced us with several reissues, The Very Best Of The Long Ryders (Prima Records Ltd.), released June 2004, and October 2008 saw the release of Live 2004: State Of Our Reunion, a nineteen track reprise of the Ryders legendary reunion tour.
In 2014 the Long Ryders played their first L.A. show in 27 years, the Earle Mankey Appreciation Concert. A short run of dates in Spain followed in December of that year.
On January 22, 2016, Cherry Red Records in London released a four CD box set of the Long Ryders. A tour of Europe took place on the last week of April/first week of May and a West Coast tour of the USA followed.
On February 15, 2019 Cherry Red Records in London releases the first new Long Ryders album in over thirty years, Psychedelic Country Soul. (In the USA the album is released by Omnivore.) And you know what this means… it means the band will hit the road for live performances. So put that wighat on yo’ head and get ready to rock da joint.
Ask anyone in Wilco, the Black Crows, the Jayhawks (who employed Stephen McCarthy on their final albums and tours) or Slobberbone and they will tell you: don’t miss The Long Ryders if they come to your town. Their unforgettable live shows are spoken of in the same breath as were the live shows of such classic acts as The Faces, Sam & Dave, or even their friend Tom Petty’s in-concert act.
NOW DIG THIS: in April 2019 the Long Ryders will play their first European shows in three years! The first four shows are in Great Britain and then the band heads to the continent to rock some socks off there. Watch this space for details. To add to the excitement the Long Ryders expect to be back this side of the pond in summer 2019 for a handful of key festival performances and in autumn 2019 Sid, Greg, Tom and Stephen return to Europe for three more weeks of touring in support of their new album, Psychedelic Country Soul.
American fans need not worry as the Long Ryders are doing both a west coast swing and an east coast swing of dates in 2019 as well. The gigs are being booked now so now details yet but California, here we come! And we won’t forget NYC, Boston, Washington DC, Atlanta, and so forth. If there is enough interest the band will do gigs elsewhere but for now their cup runneth over!
THE LONG RYDERS
first new album in 30 years
Psychedelic Country Soul
Psychedelic Country Soul out February 15, 2019 on CD / Digital (Omnivore Recordings)
One of the godfathers of the alt-country movement, The Long Ryders, will release Psychedelic Country Soul their first new album in over thirty years, on February 15, 2019. Featuring the classic line-up of Sid Griffin, Stephen McCarthy, Tom Stevens and Greg Sowders, it makes the day after Valentine’s Day, just as much of a romantic celebration.
The making of Psychedelic Country Soul is arguably thirty years overdue, as Sid Griffin explains: “For years, for decades, the band’s dear friend Larry Chatman said he would never forget Sid & Co for hiring him for tour after tour in the 1980s. ‘I’ll pay you guys back one day’ was Larry’s mantra. Fast-forward to 2016 and I got a call from Larry, who is now Dr. Dre’s personal assistant. Larry made the Long Ryders an offer they could not refuse; a week in Dr. Dre’s state of the art studio in Los Angeles.”
Griffin leapt at the generous offer and rounded up the Long Ryders for yet another cavalry charge. They secured the services of their last producer, Ed Stasium (Ramones, The Smithereens, Belinda Carlisle, Jeff Healey Band, etc.), traded demos, agreed on the material, learned the songs at home, rehearsed together in Los Angeles, recorded the album at Dre’s in eight days, mixed the tracks at Ed’s home studio, and BANG! A key link in the Americana chain was back in the saddle and back on top.
The recording sessions went smoothly, as old friends The Bangles dropped by to add harmonies, legendary rock photographer Henry Diltz took some photos while the guys worked, and the outcome was another storming album of alternative Americana.
Featuring eleven new Long Ryders compositions and a tribute cover of the late great Tom Petty’s song “Walls”, this is a Long Ryders for the 21st century; kicking off with the anthemic “Greenville,” a track which proves the band haven’t lost any of that magic guitar interplay. “Molly Somebody” is an eclectic pop tune that doesn’t neglect any of their country and rock sensibilities, while the likes of “What The Eagle Sees” reflects the energy of early punk and power pop that so informed them in the early days. You can still hear their personal connection with the music of the 1960s, but as ever The Long Ryders aren’t a band who live in the past. Album closer “Psychedelic Country Soul” is the greatest testament to that, performed like the previous 11 songs, with precision and fire; the guitars weave and harmonicas build and ebb, the song spreading like wildfire. The Long Ryders have always been celebrated for what they have to say as much as the music they make. With Psychedelic Country Soul their message delivered with 12 strings and never-ending harmonies has never been clearer.
This is a Long Ryders album that stands up with their classic albums like Native Sons and their unforgettable single “Looking For Lewis And Clark”. Psychedelic Country Soul will certainly sit on many ‘Best Of’ lists at the end of the year, but you can note its worthiness when you hear it February 15, 2019. It is that good.
For more information visit www.omnivorerecordings.com.
Let It Fly
Make It Real
If You Want To See Me Cry
What The Eagle Sees
California State Line
Bells Of August
Psychedelic Country Soul
The Long Ryders were formed in 1982 by young American musicians influenced by Gram Parsons, C&W, Sir Doug Sahm, and the energetic punk scene found in their hometown of Los Angeles. The Long Ryders were a near-perfect anecdote to formula stadium rock and wimpy synth-pop. The band featured Sid Griffin on guitar, autoharp, and harmonica, Stephen McCarthy on guitar, steel guitar, mandolin, and banjo, Tom Stevens, bass, and Greg Sowders, playing drums and percussion. With a sound reminiscent of the Buffalo Springfield and The Flying Burrito Brothers, but with a harder edge, they anticipated the alternative country music of the 1990s by a decade.