The Outlaws' early penchant for country rock is non-existent on 1980's Ghost Riders, a hard-rocking album with the thunderous three-guitar attack of Hughie Thomasson, Freddie Salem, and Billy Jones. The songwriting ranks somewhere between average and above-average, but that's not the focus here; the guitar army is the main attraction. "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky" is a fantastic cover of the Stan Jones-penned song, which was a huge hit originally for Vaughn Monroe in 1949. The Outlaws hit the Top 40 with that piece, but the edited single is no match for the blistering gallop of the six-minute album version. Thomasson's acoustic guitar work -- both arppegiated lines and full-tilt rhythm strumming -- is the perfect counterpoint for the lead electric guitars. Bassist Rick Cua and drummer David Dix provide a rumbling, no-nonsense foundation for the six-string histrionics. "White Horses" is best described as a guitar-based Southern rock ballad. The dynamic guitar work on "Angels Hide" includes everything from in-your-face solos to carefully woven interplay. The full-throttle hard rock of "Devil's Road" relies on the monstrous crunch created by unleashed guitar and bass riffing. Pleasant acoustic guitar strumming supports the ballad "I Can't Stop Loving You." The peppy chorus and vocal harmonies stand out on "Sunshine," but once again, when the guitars take over, everything else is left in the dust. "Freedom Walk" closes the album with an all-out guitar assault. Ghost Riders -- which has a very cool Gibson Les Paul-in-outer-space cover painting similar in style to Boston's Boston and Don't Look Back sleeves -- was reissued on CD by the Canadian company The Collector's Pipeline in 1993.
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AllMusic Review by Bret Adams