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Native Sons (deluxe reissue) – The Long Ryders
by Cobus Rossouw AKA 88KOS
Reviewing a reissue of an important and influential album from 1984 is a very challenging prospect for someone who has never heard the original. Some of the greatest albums ever made cannot stand outside of the context of their time and so it’s worth pausing to reflect on the history surrounding The Long Ryders’ “Native Sons”
By 1984 the genre of country-rock had been reduced to a pale shadow of its potential. While bands such as the Eagles had produced memorable songs and had advanced the style in terms of popularity, lyrical content had suffered and so this music had become associated with an anodyne middle-of-the-road sensibility.
Bear in mind that by this time The Sex Pistols had been and gone and the charts were filled with Culture Club, Keny Loggins and Lionel Richie. By the end of 1984 a day-glo Wham would plead with us to wake them up before they went.
The Long Ryders’ Native Sons entered into this market perception with a set of songs that, musically, embraced every riff, bassline and phrasing in the country-rock canon albeit with far more lyrical meaning than their immediate genre predecessors. The impact of the album was such that it peaked at number 2 on the NME Indie Charts in 1985, only kept out of the number 1 spot by Meat is Murder.
Look no further than “Ivory Tower” for this content. In two verses the Ryders sum up today’s slacktivist culture as if they had been privy to some prophecy.
In their version of Mel Tillis’ “Sweet Mental Revenge” I hear tribute to the vocal style of David Byrne, in “Tell it to the Judge on Sunday” there are moments when the voice of John Lydon calls out instructions and “Wreck of the 809” could have been included on “Sandinista”. The music on this pays homage but stands on its own feet, stands tall.
It’s a fascinating album, always surprising and filled with meaning. This is a band that could play anything, in any style. From the bass on “Wreck” to the banjo on “Never got to meet the mom” every instrument is appropriate and perfectly played. This combines with a vocal capability that manages to reference (as far as I’m concerned) every significant vocal contribution in the preceding 30 years. On top of that they do this without ever sounding like a gimmick, everything blisters with intensity, the Long Ryders mean every word.
I should have listened to “I had a Dream” in 1984.
you can tracks from this album all over the 24 hour stream of indie music that is The NBTMusicRadio and you can loads of cool 88KOS songs too!