Debut album from the darlings of the Americana crew gets the expanded 3cd treatment – is it really nearly 40 years! With their influences firmly on their sleeves – The Byrds, Flying Burrito Bros, Buck Owens etc – these students of California country-rock gave the genre a proverbial kick up the ass with their unabashed enthusiasm that propelled them to the forefront of the American indie scene.
Having initially broken through with a sound that melded country, punk and even psychedelia via a self funded EP 10-5-60 (included here) college radio lapped up this; their first full length offering that showed a band maturing rapidly and arguably inventing the whole Americana movement.
The Ryders were living the dream here. Not only did they rope in Gene Clark from their heroes The Byrds to sing harmony vocals on the classic ‘Ivory Tower’ – a song described as the greatest the Byrds never wrote – but they also enlisted the services of Producer Henry Lewy. Lewy whose credits had previously included Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and Judee Sill and inevitably the Flying Burrito Brothers was a connoisseurs choice but in reality such was the strength of the material it would have been hard to mess things up. The album contained nugget after nugget and many remain in the bands repertoire to this day.
The real highlights here are the demo’s on CD2. It’s then you realise how tight these disciples of rock’n’roll were, not only with their performances but their self- editing. It must have been a dream for Lewy to produce this album – just press the record button and sit back. Truth be told tunes like the barnstormingly punky ‘I Had A Dream’ and the driving rhythms of the snot-rock classic ‘Final Wild Son’ benefit from the VU meters being in the red and then some! Indeed, they trash the view of certain commentators that unlike their compadres from the LA Paisley Underground they weren’t edgy enough.
The final CD features a rollicking live set from Dingwalls on their triumphant tour of the UK in 1985. Always renowned for their stage performances the band here are at the peak of their powers, riding on the crest of a wave before the fickle British press pulled the rug from under them.