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Wall of Voodoo

Lost Weekend: The Best Of Wall Of Voodoo: The IRS Years

Review by Larry Toering

Wall Of Voodoo are primarily considered an 80s band but started in the late 70s and went through two line-ups. But whether you like the Stan Ridgeway led version or the Moreland / Prieboy version, they both could use more credit as they're certainly an underrated band. This “Best Of” collection covers the I.R.S. years with a choice selection from both eras of the band while on that label (which many consider the pioneer of modern indie labels). It simply pleases from start to finish with its spooky western imagery and uplifting beats. Opinions do vary as to which line up is better, but that doesn't seem to cross my mind while it's playing. These are all very good songs.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Red Light

The dark attitude of Ridgeway is sensed over a catchy melody that grooves along smoothly. The sound is done in a way that transports them to the present, as can be heard on the whole disc.

Back In The Flesh

A brooding bass line sets up the guitars of Moreland. Then Ridgeway's magic kicks in and a classic WOV tune complete with beatbox is the result.

Tsetse Fly

Percussion galore is all over this one, featuring a fly swatting crash every other second. So far everything is as fun as this band ever were.

Crack The Bell

If a strong REM vibe is felt by now it's because I think there are similarities throughout. It just really begins to become evident here.

Lost Weekend

I would mention REM here, too. This is simply beautiful. “A gem,” is what I call it. Some might say it's wimpy or boring but it's a relaxing and rather soothing number that grows as it goes. When I found out this was on the disc it sold me on the idea of reviewing it.

Factory

This is yet another killer tune with a spooky vibe that Ridgeway tops off so well with his humorous approach. There’s a heavy touch of harp starting to really kick in here.

 

Mexican Radio

This sounds as modern as the day it came out, and that is the first thing that comes to mind as soon as it starts. In fact, this is just as good today as it was when it first came out.  It's nice to be able to revisit it this way, as well as the rest of the set. I didn't expect it to hit me this well. This is superb!

 

On Interstate 15

A piano opens this track with a Caribbean vibe that won't stop. It has tribal beats and warble textured keyboards. It barely sounds 80s, but I don't know if that's good or bad.

Call The West

The western sound is probably best found here, but it's generally a part of their vibe. It's just that the influences of Ridgeway start to really come out here. This is one of their epic numbers for sure.

Far Side Of Crazy

Enter Andy Prieboy on vocals, as well as two other respective replacements and Bruce Moreland added on bass. There is a difference, but a good one it seems by the likes of this excellent tune. Prieboy sounds similar enough in tone to fit perfectly. This works for me, and the western feel is intact.

Big City

This is another winner in my book, so things are doing well because I'm new to most of the later stuff. It's likable in every way. In fact, that’s true enough that I've been enjoying it on repeat.

Dark As A Dungeon

This is something different than anything on offer so far, probably a low point, but only one so far if it is.

Do It Again

Staying with different, this is still more like it. In fact, it's a great tune with more of a pop structure.

Country Of Man

This one is a Moreland number with a rockabilly feel and a dance-perfect beat. It's easily in the top shelf tracks on the disc. I like the lighter stuff the most, but I like it all nevertheless.

Elvis Bought Dora A Cadillac

This is not one of my favorites, but it doesn't completely annoy and is very WOV in many ways. Somehow it’s also removed from their sound at the same time. It's a good way to end the first class selection of studio songs.

The Heart Can Never Tell (live)

The first of these live numbers is a drastic change because it's not a studio recording. It's a bit of a fussy tune to my ears, and not the best thing on offer.

Ring Of Fire (live)
This is much more like it and this live cover is a smart way to end the overall pile of fantastic forgotten songs from these two different bands in one brand. From beginning to end this is a smoking hot version of the classic which fits their western vibe so well.
 
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