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The Index Masters

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Editors’ Notes

Coming on like a ragtag pack of film noir wiseguys, Wall of Voodoo traded in a kind of industrial punk-rock that set them apart from their early ‘80s peers. The beginnings of this curious L.A. combo are exposed on The Index Masters, a compilation of their first two EPs along with some previously-unreleased live cuts. Deliberately low-tech in sound, the group mixed minimalist synthesizer lines with junkyard guitar riffs and a battery of percussion effects. Singer Stanard Ridgway applied his quavery vocal panache to lyrics depicting grimy city scenes and desperate characters. What redeemed it all was their sense of humor — check out “Long Arm” and “Can’t Make Love” for a sample of Ridgway’s skewed vision. The band knew how to select the right cover tunes as well — their creepy rendition of “Ring Of Fire” burns into the mind. On stage, Stan and his crew were prickly, provocative and darkly funny, as tunes like “Red Light” and “Call Box” reveal. The band went on to release two albums on I.R.S. before losing Ridgway and sputtering out in the late ‘80s. The Index Masters preserves their peculiar mojo just as it was ripening into full potency.

Customer Reviews

early 80's goodness

People. THIS IS A COMPILATION OF THEIR FIRST RECORDINGS. "Mexican Radio" is from the album "Call of the West" that came out a couple years AFTER this was originally released. And frankly, in my humble opinion, their first two albums--this one, and the brilliant "Dark Continent"---are far superior to Call of the West anyway (aside from the track "Lost Weekend"). I would not even bother with anything they recorded after Stanard left the band (Seven Days in Sammystown) as the band's sound suffered greatly in his absence. Every time I listen to them I feel as though I am in a spaghetti western circus freakshow and it makes me feel happy and a little disturbed. This is such a great EP.

Fantastic album

First, this collection is really the earliest work of the band and is not a "Greatest Hits". Seems like a few reviewers think that Mexican Radio should have been included on EP's that came before the song was written. This has long been on of my favorites, and their rendition of "Ring of Fire" is one of my top 10 songs of the last 25 years. I hate to admit, I like it better than Johnny Cash... My personal favorite on the album is the Morricone Themes (here called "The Good the Bad and the Ugly/Hang 'em High"). It is an amazing piece, and belies the "punk" roots of the band...but they were never pidgonholed easily as "new wave" or "punk" in their day either. Call of the West is a masterpiece, Dark Continent is fantastic, but putting the whole thing together is this EP plus live tracks. Once Stan Ridgeway left, the band was dead, but this disk will give you an idea of why I consider them on of the best "undescovered" 80's bands around.

the index masters

These recordings chronicle a Los Angeles music scene that was vibrant and vital. Wall of Voodoo, Human Hands, the BPeople--these were great bands playing in the L.A. punk era, but they were not playing what anybody would call punk. I love these recordings--they speak of experimentation and ingenuity. They are the antithesis of cool because "cool" usually entails compromise, selling out, and fitting in--to a trend, however undergound it may be. This isn't "new wave" despite the synth and Ridgeway's stylized voice.

Biography

Formed: 1977 in Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '70s, '80s

Best known for their alternative radio classic "Mexican Radio," Wall of Voodoo formed in Los Angeles in 1977, originally as a soundtrack company. Led by singer/songwriter Stan Ridgway and rounded out by guitarist Marc Moreland, bassist/keyboardist Bruce Moreland, keyboardist Chas Gray, and drummer Joe Nanini, the group issued its self-titled debut EP in 1980. With the additions of bassist Bruce Moreland and his brother Marc on guitar (replacing Noland), the band's sound crystallized on 1981's full-length...
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The Index Masters, Wall of Voodoo
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