Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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The Long Ryders

  • 10-5-60 [PVC EP, 1983] B
  • Native Sons [Frontier, 1984] B+
  • State of Our Union [Island, 1985] B+

Consumer Guide Reviews:

10-5-60 [PVC EP, 1983]
What Jason and the Scorchers are to punk these guys are to new wave, with a soul Gram Parsons fans will recognize. But though Sid Griffin has assimilated the right songwriting skills, there's something tentative if not theoretical about the way he puts them to use--like he feels a little unworthy. Which means he probably is a little unworthy. B

Native Sons [Frontier, 1984]
The down-to-earth poor-boy stance is an improvement on the boho excesses of the new L.A., though sometimes it's hard to pin down why these impressively particular songs go with this impressively seamless country-rock synthesis. Put it this way--they don't soft-pedal life's big fat downside, but they're good-humored about it. If you don't pay attention, you think Mel Tillis's "(Sweet) Mental Revenge" is one of theirs. B+

State of Our Union [Island, 1985]
"Looking for Lewis and Clark" is some anthem, but like "Start Me Up" it may reveal more than it intends. These guys seek the explorers rather than the wilderness for the same reason they name Gram Parsons and Tim Hardin as forefathers, rather than Hank and Lefty. The self-conscious distance may be healthy--whatever drove Parsons and Hardin to their roots also turned them into dead junkies. But it's got to cut into the immediacy of the music, and for all the informed intelligence of songs like their tribute to black Memphis superstation WDIA, the album does come to a point at "State of My Union," which aggravates the honest chauvinism of Ronnie Van Zant's reflections on the same subject with the gratuitous self-righteousness of Neil Young's. B+