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Album Review

It's hard to believe Stan Ridgway has never worked with David Lynch — these soundscapes from the former leader of Wall of Voodoo seem perfectly suited to the filmmaker's dark tales — but his publicity bio reveals no evidence that he has. At any rate, if you recall Lynch's Twin Peaks, you can probably conjure this up pretty well. Ridgway writes, as the bio notes, "about the darker side of things"; and his latest album, like its predecessors, is dominated by somber, limited-range vocals and moody, electronically augmented tales of strange characters in strange situations. Like Lynch, Ridgway flirts with the pretentious, and his downbeat confessions can occasionally leave you wondering, "Is this guy weird — or is he just making a career of trying to sound that way?" Consider: "Mama had a stove and daddy had a still/Then daddy ran away with his second cousin Jill." And, from the same song: "I left home at 10/I joined a carnival/Washing down the elephants/Life was never dull." The carnival's clowns get drunk in the next verse, but it seems more likely that it was Ridgway who was drunk when he wrote this. Be that as it may, the artist's approach works more often than not here, and such tracks as "Mission Bell" are memorable. Ridgway's fans should like the album, especially after they pop it into a computer's CD-ROM drive and discover its bonus: three live tracks in Liquid Audio format and a link to a website where they can download three more. It's an interesting gimmick, and the extra tracks rank among the album's best. Still, simply adding more tracks to the regular CD would have been preferable, since you can't hear these unless you're at your PC.


Born: 05 April 1954 in Barstow, CA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

One of the most unique singer/songwriters in American indie music, with an unforgettable adenoidal vocal delivery that makes him sound like a low-level wise guy in one of those old Warner Bros. gangster films of the '30s and a lyrical obsession with the themes of pulp crime novels and film noir, Stan Ridgway is a true original. From his early days with quirky Los Angeles new wavers Wall of Voodoo to his even more intriguing solo career, Ridgway has created an impressive, if at times somewhat inscrutable...
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anatomy, Stan Ridgway
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