ON SALE ! "Ridgway has transformed himself into a decidedly offbeat version of Johnny Cash and Captain Beefheart, Rod Serling and Tom Waits all rolled up into one." -- LiveDaily.com
"A strange look at a strange land by a strange man.." -- Boise Weekly - 5 stars *****
Continuing an on-again/off-again relationship with his Drywall side project that began in 1986 with Work the Dumb Oracle, the third album in Stan Ridgway's "trilogy of apocalyptic documents" isn't substantially different from his better-known solo work, at least on this 2006 release. His carnival barker vocals, bizarre lyrics, and shapeshifting cinematic soundscapes are in fine twisted form as the songs morph from the moody, bluesy harmonica-laced "Bury the Pope" to the more experimental subtle electronica textures of "Rain on Down" and the whimsical, Tex-Mex party atmosphere of "Goin' on Down to the BBQ." Co-Drywall conspirators/multi-instrumentalists Pietra Wexstun and especially Rick King are relegated to sideline status as Ridgway's distinctive vocals and lyrics dominate the proceedings. The diverse sounds combine aspects of Tom Waits (the percussive "The Alibi Room" sounds like an outtake from Rain Dogs), jazzy noir lounge ("Somewhere in the Dark"), Yello ("That Big Weird Thing"), and even world music ("Bold Marauder" is sung by Wexstun doing her best Grace Slick impression), but ultimately seem like Ridgway pushing his already elastic musical boundaries. At just over an hour, including a humorous bonus track that features sentences from George W. Bush speeches cut-and-pasted to mean something far different than what was originally intended, there is a lot to listen to here. Each track is overdubbed multiple times with layers of sound effects and instruments requiring repeated listenings to fully absorb. As with many Ridgway projects, the lyrical theme is obtuse but the music is so challenging, quirky, and innovative that the whole shebang is a mesmerizing musical trip. Anyone already a Ridgway fan will be thrilled, and open-minded newcomers might find enough of interest here to seek out his earlier, arguably more cohesive albums. Barbeque Babylon is a fun, often but not always lighthearted romp with the participants obviously enjoying themselves by painting a sonic palette the equivalent of '60s pop art. Part pastiche, part storytelling, and part experimental, the album finds Ridgway at the peak of his powers, creating music that demands attention even if at times it doesn't take itself seriously. ~ Hal Horowitz
"They're selling pure gold with this record! . . . Not only does Ridgway make a great carnival barker at the gates of Armageddon, but the music here is some of the strongest he's ever done." -- Santa Fe New Mexican
STAN RIDGWAY’S DRYWALL OFFERS CHARRED MUSIC FOR SMOKIN’ BBQs
LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- Songwriter and musical alchemist Stan Ridgway has taken a short break from his solo endeavors (last year's acclaimed CD Snakebite, the DVD Holiday in Dirt) in order to deliver another installment from his Drywall side project, Barbeque Babylon.
Drywall is Stan Ridgway, guitar and vocals; Pietra Wexstun, keyboards and vocals; and Rick King, guitar, bass and vocals. Other musical friends join in from track to track. Street date for the album is January 10, 2006.
“Drywall,” explains Ridgway, “is a mad musical project of ours that gets nailed up every once and a while when things of this nature pile up. Our experimental eletro noise combo. I still enjoy messing with sounds. Drywall music attempts to give ‘sonic understanding’ in a world that too often does not. Its also about saying we're mad as hell and aren't going to take it anymore. These days , there's a lot to get angry about, too. We feel its the best Drywall record we've done. Pietra, Rick, myself and our studio gang cooked it up this last summer in a way to gather some equilibrium emoitionally. We hope it does the same for who listens. It’s about trash and frustration, fear and control."
Not that Ridgway doesn’t address trash, frustration and fear on his solo outings. But Drywall ups — or downs — the ante, addressing warmongers (“Wargasm”), middle age ennui ("Somewhere In The Dark") economic hardship (“Something’s Gonna Blow”) and robbers, bandits, bastards and thieves (“Robbers & Bandits & Bastards & Thieves”) in a mix of tropical rhythms, acid jazz, electronica, country and funk. Despite its topics, lots of Barbeque Babylon is quite danceable, and certainly will be fine accompaniment to any BBQ party . . . as the world burns.
Press: "Ridgway has transformed himself into a decidedly offbeat version of Johnny Cash and Captain Beefheart, Rod Serling and Tom Waits all rolled up into one." -- LiveDaily.com
Stan Ridgway's musical career began in the late ‘70s as part of a soundtrack company to create music for low-budget horror films. From its ashes, art-punk outfit Wall of Voodoo was born, and with Ridgway as lead voice, released an EP, two albums, and the 1982 single "Mexican Radio.” Ridgway then embarked on a solo career that has included work on the film "Rumblefish" with Stewart Copeland, other independent film soundtracks, artist production most recently Frank Black & The Catholics’ Show Me Your Tears (2003), Blood (2004) with composer Pietra Wexstun (a musical score to accompany the paintings of artist Mark Ryden,) in addition to numerous critically acclaimed solo recordings.
Stan says, "This CD completes the trilogy of apocalyptic documents we started back in 1996 with the first Drywall record Work The Dumb Oracle. Drywall music is like a weather report, really. The songs are written by all of us in a topical vien and you might even call this our blow yer mind / protest record, in the grand tradition of recordings we grew up with like Country Joe and The Fish's Feel Like I'm Fixin' To Die. It also puts your head in a different space to make a band record, even though its more of a project than a real band. Still, we'll be playing some of this out on tour if we can just calm down long enough."
Ridway has a suggestion for meeting others if you'll be listening in your car: “Place a big dirty sock over your car radio antenna to alert like-minded others that you are listening to Drywall in there. Then form a convoy and head towards your state capitol at breakneck speed. Do not stop. Do not pass go. Park in handicap spaces and wait for further instructions.”
# # #
Press: "Stan Ridgway's "experimental noise combo" Drywalls' latest CD sounds like a rave in which the ringmaster invited the Holy Modal Rounders, Sam The Sham, Tom Waits, Captain Beefheart, the Wiggles, the Trashmen, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Popeye, Steve Earle, Devo, Nico and err...George Bush, then spiked the punch with a scary, ultra-potent new psychedelic drug and hosted big ol' jam session. Brilliant, unique, hysterical, topical, oodles' o' fun, somehow exceptionally listenable, and (dare I say it?) even danceable, this is what happens when the concept of music as art actually succeeds to perfection. Clue: a sense of humor is always essential." -- San Diego Union Tribune
Five Stars *****
- All Music Guide - Barbeque Babylon
Stan Ridgway and Drywall
*****Review by Hal Horowitz
Continuing an on again/off again relationship with his Drywall side project that began in 1986 with Work the Dumb Oracle, the third album in Stan Ridgway's "trilogy of apocalyptic documents" isn't substantially different from his better-known solo work, at least on this 2006 release. His carnival barker vocals, bizarre lyrics and shapeshifting cinematic soundscapes are in fine twisted form as the songs morph from the moody, bluesy harmonica laced "Bury the Pope" to the more experimental subtle electronica textures of "Rain on Down" and the whimsical, Tex-Mex party atmosphere of "Goin' on Down to the BBQ." Co-Drywall conspirators/multi-instrumentalists Pietra Wexstun and especially Rick King are relegated to sid-
eline status as Ridgway's distinctive vocals and lyrics dominate the proceedings. The diverse sounds combine aspects of Tom Waits (the percussive "The Alibi Room" sounds like an outtake from Rain Dogs), jazzy noir lounge ("Somewhere in the Dark"), Yello ("That Big Weird Thing") and even world music ("Bold Marauder" is sung by Wexstun doing her best Grace Slick impression), but ultimately seem like Ridgway pushing his already elastic musical boundaries. At just over an hour, including a humorous bonus track that features sentences from George W. Bush speeches cut and pasted to mean something far different than what was originally intended, there is a lot to listen to here. Each track is overdubbed multiple times with layers of sound effects and instruments requiring repeated listenings to fully absorb. As with many Ridgway projects, the lyrical theme is obtuse but the music is so challenging, quirky and innovative that the whole shebang is a mesmerizing musical trip. Anyone already a Ridgway fan will be thrilled and open-minded newcomers might find enough of interest here to seek out his earlier, arguably more cohesive albums. Barbeque Babylon is a fun, often but not always lighthearted romp with the participants obviously enjoying themselves by painting a sonic palette the equivalent of 60s pop art. Part pastiche, part storytelling and part experimental, the album finds Ridgway at the peak of his powers, creating music that demands attention even if at times it doesn't take itself seriously.
And listeners world wide over have spoken!:
"It's hard to have a grand experiment and expect everything to go right. Leave it up to Stan and crew to pull this off without harming anyone. When you first listen to this you should set aside an hour and two minuets and listen to it all the way through and experience all of its Luscious Glory. This is much more than a CD, it's an event. And if the song "Something's Gonna Blow" doesn't make you want to do the funky monkey something's wrong with you."
"Both lyrically and musically Drywall weave a complex vision of America. Easily Ridgway's best writing to date, this is a loud, raging indictment of the festering America Dream. BARBEQUE BABYLON is a must listen for anybody interested in the original."
"I'll be humming all these tunes in the 21st century concentation camp. As usual I'm totally blown away from Drywall. I love the voice of "reason" that weaves in and out of the material, he's on to somethin! All the songs are GREAT. Come back to Jersey, I'll get you a pair of Yankee playoff tickets."
CD Review by Steve Terrell / The Sante Fe New Mexican
- "RIDGWAY BACK TO NEW TRICKS" -
As a solo artist, Stan Ridgway is nothing short of an eclectic, eccentric musician.
He draws from all sorts of musical sources -- garage rock, horror movie soundtracks, crime jazz, and more. His most recent solo album, last year's Snakebite, showed a fine knack for rootsy country and blues.
Lyrically, Ridgway has a skewed outlook and a soft spot for losers, loonies, small-time crooks and society's dregs. Most of his songs are sympathetic to his characters. He grants them dignity and many of his songs seem to offer a ray of hope for those struggling beneath the underbelly.
But when Ridgway records as the front man of his band Drywall, all bets are off.
And, after a ridiculously long recess, Drywall is back with Barbecue Babylon, "The Third Installment of the Trilogy of Apocalyptic Documents."
Drywall is Ridgway, his wife, keyboardist Pietra Wexstun and guitarist/bassist Rick King.
(For those keeping score, the first installment was 1995's Work the Dumb Oracle, which contained some of Ridgway's most intense songs -- "Police Call," "Bel Air Blues," "Big American Problem." The second was The Drywall Incident which was mainly instrumental tracks.)
Like Work the Dumb Oracle, the songs on the new album are darker, harsher, more extreme both musically and lyrically than Ridgway's other work. Rays of hope don't last long in Drywall Land. And except for a few stray moments, forget about kindness or dignity.
And, yes, the world of Barbecue Babylon is apocalyptic. Corruption is everywhere. A desperate spirit of lawless has settled over the land. Thievery and murder abound, but the government has gone even more insane than the populace. To play on a few song titles here -- It's a "Land of Spook" run by people seemingly intent on achieving a "Wargasm."
Life is cheap. Love is tawdry. Paranoia thrives. ("The AARP is after me," sings one sad Ridgway narrator.) Doom is always just around the corner.
Luckily, Ridgway's twisted humor still abounds.
Not only does Ridgway make a great carnival barker at the gates of Armageddon, but the music here is some of the strongest he's ever done.
The opening tune "Goin' on Down to the BBQ," is a deceptively upbeat tropical romp with shaking maracas and a happy organ that sounds like it might break into "Tequila" at any moment. The song sounds like a darker version of Joe "King" Carrasco. "Tammy Got a Knife with a razor blade/ She brought her baby with a burnt teddy bear/ Lost her finger on a midnight swinger/ Cook it up and like it medium rare."
But after the cops break up the backyard party, Drywall goes straight for the Bizarro world with the acid jazzy "Fortune Cookies." A honking sax soars over the techno rhythms as Ridgway declares, "Fascist state television, it's a blast ... that's the way the cookie crumbles."
On "Big Weird Thing," against a throbbing electronic sonic backdrop punctuated by sampled voices and sinister clanking bells, Ridgway goes into a berserk rant. He sounds like the celebrated crank Francis E. Dec (Google him, if you dare) or one of those frothing preachers and political crackpots that David Byrne and Brian Eno sampled from short-wave radio broadcasts on My Life in the Bush of Ghosts. "It's a whitewash! Disintegration! Surely something that just seems to rot and fester ... Show me these things and I shall salute it."
On Barbecue, Drywall sounds more like a band than they did on Dumb Oracle. Wexstun, whose voice is a proven delight on her own albums (released under the name Hecate's Angels) gets two solo spots on this album. The most impressive is "Bold Marauder," an old Richard & Mimi Farina song that's appropriately sinister and, yes, apocalyptic for a Drywall CD:.
"For I will sour the winds on high and I will soil the river/And I will burn the grain in the field and I will be your mother/And I will go to ravage and kill and I will go to plunder/And I will take a fury to wife and I will be your mother/And death will be our darling and fear will be our name ..."
Pietra's also out front on "Something's Gonna Blow" (with Stan providing unison baritone backup.) This one, with its rolicking garage-rock backup, reminds me of the Farinas also, their more rocked-out tunes like' "House Un-American Blues Activity Dream" (or maybe Frank Zappa's "Trouble Every Day.") Drywall's tune is a bitchen funky-chicken dance about economic decay.
There's a secret hidden track featuring the voice of the president of the United States of America. Ridgway surely remembers The National Lampoon''s infamous cut-and-paste manipulation of a Richard Nixon speech ("I am ... a crook ..."). He's done the same shock-and-awe editing here for President Bush.
"Every year by law and by custom we meet here to threaten the world," the president says, backed by an ominous Mid Eastern sounding Drywall instrumental track, interrupted every now and then by applause. "We must offer every child in America three nuclear missiles ... We are building a culture to encourage international terrorism ... I have a message for the people of Iraq: `Go home and die.' "
There's one notable calm in the madness of Barbecue Babylon, a cool, almost jazzy little finger-popper called "Buried the Pope." Ridgway released this surprising reverent tune as a free internet download just days after Pope John Paul II's death.
"A world choked up with lies and politician doublespeak/ Nowhere to get the truth sometimes, but some will always seek/ Now you can criticize it, run it down/ Maybe religion's not your dope/ But it's hard to argue solid about a man of peace and hope/ That's the day they buried the pope."
But the funeral is just a short respite for Ridgway's outrage. Elsewhere he has nothing but contempt for the large and in charge. In a sweet, almost western-sound waltz called "Robbers & Bandits & Bastards & Thieves," he sings, "Hey nothing' is new, this story is old/ Some will always steal tin and then sell it for gold ..."
That's not the case for Ridgway and Drywall. They're selling pure gold with this record.
Steve Terrell - The Sante Fe New Mexicam
Bledsoe: Collaboration elevates Ridgway's weirdness
By WAYNE BLEDSOE, firstname.lastname@example.org
January 22, 2006
"Barbeque Babylon," Drywall (redFLY)
Stan Ridgway has always been on that weird side of rock 'n' roll. He's sort of the musical equivalent of Orson Welles' classic film noir "A Touch of Evil" - a little creepy, a little funny, wonderfully entertaining and just plain bent. Ridgway seems to revel in the company of Drywall co-conspirators Pietra Wexstun and Rick King. Unlike Ridgway's organic-sounding instrumentation on solo albums, Drywall is filled with wiggly synthesizers (mostly courtesy of Wexstun), processed beats, bleating saxophones and the like. Electronica mixes with Tex Mex and twisted lounge music. Dialogue from band members fills gaps between songs. As on Drywall's 1995 debut, "Work the Dumb Oracle," songs address politics.
Sometimes the references are oblique, ason the bouncy "Abandon Ship," but, more often, the group goes for the throat.
An untitled track at the end of the disc is made up of re-edited speeches by George W. Bush set to the sound of tribal beats, guitars and electronics.
At times, Drywall recalls Ridgway's tenure as frontman for the early 1980s group Wall of Voodoo.
Drywall, though, is far more mercurial. Ridgway, Wextun and King are adults who still remember what a blast it is to be smart-aleck kids.
It's not as arresting as Ridgway's wonderful 2004 solo album "Snakebite: Blacktop Ballads and Fugitive Songs," but it's great to hear all the things that Ridgway won't do on his own."
a bit of history....
BACKS AGAINST THE DRYWALL
Stan Ridgway's new band documents the end of Los Angeles
In this hoary and putrid world of pop music, filled with vapid
info-bytes, "controversial" web sites and loathsome singers who model
$12,000 pants for Details and then whine about media manipulation, Stan
Ridgway is a breath of fresh helium. Better yet, he's a cracked-spine,
jam-packed Norton Anthology of whacked-out American folklore and gritty
Though the one-time Wall Of Voodoo member has spent the better half of
his solo career spinning tales of kooks and losers from a mythical
America ("Salesman," "Peg And Pete And Me" and "Gumbo Man," to name but
an iota), his latest incarnation -- the band Drywall -- paints a bleak
yet still amusing noisescape of a Los Angeles about to blow. It's
eerie, outlandish and really quite wonderful. We'll get to it later.
This story starts off, however, over a year ago on a blustery,
freeze-your-nipples- off night in the old GE building in Toronto's west
end. Ridgway was in town filming his scene (a Punch and Judy style,
war-torn Berlin dance number set to "Cannon Song") in Larry Weinstein's
tribute to Kurt Weill, September Songs. Ridgway sat down for a very
brief interview and talked about his unceremonious dumping from Geffen
Records after his 1991 tour de force Partyball, and how people treat
Weill with far too much reverence. He was fascinating and droll as can
be as he sat there, nursing a hot toddy in one hand and holding a
ridiculous Colonel Klink helmet in the other. It all came to an abrupt
halt, though, after his about-to- pop-an-artery manager split us apart
just when things were getting good. The last thing I remember is him
ambling off to the washroom, sword dragging behind him.
Now, a year later and 13 years after Wall Of Voodoo's evocative Call
Of The West album, Ridgway is back with his original label (IRS) for
Work The Dumb Oracle, and back in a band -- Drywall is a tight, noisy
collective that includes Ridgway's longtime co-conspirator, keyboardist
Pietra Wextun, and drummer Ivan Knight. So why the leap from Stan
Ridgway™ pop tunes?
"It's because I was in limbo between record labels," Ridgway explains
from his Los Angeles studio. "I was working on recordings all the time
and finished up a solo record that I was just about to master and say,
`Here's another recording,' but in the meantime, I'd come up with a lot
of other things that were a lot angrier. I felt it had a lot more
resonance and meaningfulness for me -- this pile of angry rants -- than
what I'd just finished."
According to Ridgway, Work The Dumb Oracle is "the first in a trilogy
of apocalyptic documents culminating in the year 2000." If this sounds
a bit like plagues of frogs leaping out of the Book of Revelations,
you've got the right idea.
"That's why I kind of like it," he says with a laugh. "It's a bit
ironic 'cause I don't know if there's going to be an apocalypse. It
seems that history has a way of steam-rolling over all of us who think
we have the answer. But I'll tell ya, it's an age of marketing, and
Drywall understands that."
The anger which fueled Work The Dumb Oracle has more to do with what
Ridgway calls the `triangle heads of L.A. -- the kind of guy who "comes
down the street and throws a few spiked logs in the road for you to run
over" rather than the Newt Gingrichs or Bob Doles who want to scrap
Ridgway's beloved PBS to save a few tax dollars.
"A lot of L.A.'s population has become very myopic and very solipsistic
in terms that they don't really see what's going on in the rest of the
world. They feel it's all coming from here. They spew out pictures of
fires and earthquakes, riots and floods and O.J. -- all that stuff. We
thought L.A. was kind of an oracle of sorts, but it's a dumb oracle.
It's kind of a touchstone for a lot of people to get close to -- cop a
feel. But a lot of it's senseless nonsense.
"We thought Drywall is not above such base behavior, so we're working
the dumb oracle. And we'll work it for all it's worth, because we live
here and we have to take it day in and day out."