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Holiday in Dirt

Stan Ridgway

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Album Review

Stan Ridgway's lyrical voice is every bit as distinctive as the way he sings, and that's saying something — the unmistakably dry but rubbery Southwestern twang of Ridgway's voice is the perfect instrument for his tales of lost souls and puzzled losers, and his songs chart a path that suggests a midway point between aural film noir and Ennio Morricone's spaghetti Western scores. A clearly underrated talent, Ridgway's post-Wall 0f Voodoo solo work has never attracted the audience it deserved (partly due to a long string of bad luck with record companies both large and small), but anyone who doubts the strength of the music he's been making since the late '80s only needs to give a listen to Holiday in Dirt, a collection of B-sides, rare tracks, and outtakes that have been gathering dust in Ridgway's closet. While odds-and-ends compilations like this are usually made up of stuff that didn't make the cut because it wasn't up to snuff, that's not the case with Holiday in Dirt — as a matter of fact, this is as strong a set as anything Ridgway has released since Mosquitos in 1989. Whether he's writing about teenage guitar manglers ("Garage Band '69"), low-level mob leg-breakers ("Bing Can't Walk"), or a washed-up long-in-the-tooth actress ("Beloved Movie Star"), Ridgway makes his characters human and worthy of compassion even at their most ugly and pathetic, and the dry Southwestern clatter of the music is both bracing and the perfect fit. And even though these tracks were assembled from material recorded over the space of a dozen years, these 12 tunes (one appearing in two versions) fit together beautifully, which says a lot about the consistency of Ridgeway's vision. While Stan Ridgeway already has a strong career overview compilation (The Best of Stan Ridgway: Songs That Made This Country Great), Holiday in Dirt shows that he's left more than a few gems behind as well, and this album is a treat for fans and not a bad introduction to his body of work.

Customer Reviews

Stan Ridgway's Story Telling is One Of A Kind!

Though Stan Ridgway first made his mark in the early 1980s with new wave synth-rockers Wall of Voodoo (one of the most distinctive bands of their era), his subsequent solo career has continually shown that his talents extend far beyond his former band's lone hit (the semi-novelty "Mexican Radio"). Over the years Ridgway's recordings have marked him as a crafty songwriter with a gift for exploring the dark side of America via sardonic narratives that nod to Randy Newman, Tom Waits and Donald Fagen. HOLIDAY IN DIRT is a collection of b-sides and other rarities from the extensive Ridgway oeuvre, but Ridgway's songwriting knack is such that none of these tunes ever feel in close like castoffs. As always, Ridgway's melodic invention transcends genre in an often-successful search for original-sounding, distinctive musical frameworks nevertheless bound to conventional rock hardware. Though his penchant for film-noir creepiness and his sui generis voice will strike a familiar chord with Wall of Voodoo admirers, this eclectic, ambitious batch of songs is as worthy a part of Ridgway's canon as any of his "proper" releases. I say BUY IT!

Act of Faith.

Buy it. You and your friends need this in your lives.

Biography

Born: April 5, 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...
Full Bio
Holiday in Dirt, Stan Ridgway
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