Live in New York City

The Long Ryders

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Live in New York City Review

by Bruce Eder

There ought to be more live albums like this -- the Long Ryders were among the finest bands in the early 1980s "paisley underground" scene, but they only left behind three good LPs in their two-year history, so this CD fills a necessary gap in their output; and it's also a jewel of a concert album. The quartet played The Bottom Line in 1985 in conjunction with the release of their final album, Two Fisted Tales, but their repertory for the show was drawn from across their respective members' history. The fact is that they're so "on" for this show, recalling Television on "Capturing the Flag" or "I Want You Bad," or the Byrds-like "Man of Misery," or the slashing punk attack on "Prairie Fire," that it almost wouldn't have mattered what they played, as long as they played this way. Steve McCarthy's and Sid Griffin's guitars crunch and cut away at folk-ish and country-like melodies, sounding a lot like a garage punk version of the Eagles, and the vocals all have a spellbinding immediacy, at times recalling Dylan in his younger days, at other moments the Flamin' Groovies' Cyril Jordan, and, at others, Roger McGuinn on a day he never had so good at the microphone -- and also they move into Beach Boys territory by way of Chuck Berry, as on "State of My Union." Taken from a professionally made broadcast tape, the fidelity is as good as one might hope for, and as high as any live album one cares to name, and with no after-the-fact sweetening, either.

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