Mr. Trouble is here. On brand new digipak CD and download. Fantastic !
Review - " Stan Ridgway is an artist defined in the eyes of many by his quirks -- the rubbery twang of his voice, the dark and angular tone of his melodies, and the herky-jerky attack of his best-known performances. Listen past the eccentricities of Ridgway's surfaces and you'll know he's one of the most gifted songwriters of his generation, and Mr. Trouble suggests that he's trying to make it just a bit easier for folks to dig into the core of his work. Mr. Trouble opens with six new studio tracks that find Ridgway in noticeably different voice these days; his instrument is deeper and craggier, sounding dry and worn on "We Never Close," and his phrasing is by his standards subdued, with less yelp and more plainspoken resonance. The melodies are also a few shades less sharp this time out, with vintage jazz and R&B as obvious reference points on tunes like "The Drowning Man," "All Too Much," and the title cut. The arrangements present Ridgway's melodies in a more organic and straightforward fashion than one might expect, though "Mr. Trouble" and "Gone Deep Underground" give the players plenty of room to stretch out and explore the outer reaches of the music. (It helps that Ridgway's band is in excellent form here, especially keyboardist Pietra Wexstun, percussionist Bruce Zelesnik, and guitarist Rick King.) And Ridgway's songs are typically splendid while subtly reflecting the malaise of post-millennial America, particularly on "The Drowning Man," "Across the Border," and "Gone Deep Underground. Fantastic ! "
The musicians here include Stan Ridgway: electric and acoustic guitars, harmonica, keyboards, electronics, vocals / Pietra Wexstun: keyboards, electronics, optigon, farfisa organ, vocals, melodica / Rick King: electric and acoustic guitar, bottleneck guitar, elec. bass / Bruce Zelesnik: drums, electronics, tympani, metal breakdrums, percussion / Ralph Carney: saxophones and woodwinds, trumpet / Enrico Deiro: accordion / Lazlo Vickers: violin, viola / Tommy Arizona: pedal steel guitar / Jerome Kelly: acoustic bass.
A double EP ! with 6 new studio tracks and 4 great live performances. Tracks 1-6 Produced by Ridgway / Wexstun / Zelesnik and recorded and mixed at Impala Studios, Venice CA. Feb - March 2012. Live Tracks 7-10 recorded at The Mountain Stage with host Larry Groce in West Virgina USA November 2010. Musicians include Stan Ridgway: acoustic guitar and vocals / Pietra Wexstun: keyboards, melodica, vocals / Rick King: lead and slide guitar / special guest Tim O'Brien: violin, fiddle and the great Mountain Stage Band. All tracks have been Mastered by Mulholland Sound, Los Angeles CA. USA.
Reviews : Mr. Trouble / Stan Ridgway / A440 Records
"The first Mr. Trouble tunes that really grabbed me were the bluesy, funky, crime-jazz-tinted numbers, which hark back to Ridgway’s early solo years in the mid-’80s — when critics were calling him a rock ’n’ roll Raymond Chandler.
“All Too Much” (no, not The Beatles’ song) is a breezy, soul-informed workout — there’s a horn section! — in which Wexstun and guitarist Rick King shine. The melody might remind you of The B-52s’ “Love Shack,” but the lyrics aren’t so idyllic. Ridgway, as he’s known to do, sings about corruption, injustice, and hard times.
“Well it’s a hot afternoon on a city street/A cop in black and strolling his beat/He hears a baby crying from a window ledge/Times are tough and people still on the edge/And there’s a gang of boys movin’ on the corner/lookin’ mean and gettin’ ready to fight/As somewhere downtown in a high-rise office a man at the bank tells you times are tight.”
The title song is a swampy blues number that allows King to show off some nasty Tony Joe White licks and Ridgway to blow his distinctive harmonica. What’s that strange sitar sound you hear in the background in the first minute or so of the song?
Even better is “Gone Deep Underground,” a snappy, bass-driven sleaze-blues jumper in which Ridgway sings about institutions crumbling and various people making themselves scarce. The song is full of images of boarded-up houses, people sleeping in airport bars, and even a secret government laboratory. It also contains some of the funniest lyrics I’ve heard lately: “Sandstorm blowin’ into Phoenix can ruin a perfectly good toupee/Hey, somebody hand me a Kleenex/She’s on a crying jag that won’t go away.”
“Across the Border” might just be the prettiest and saddest song Ridgway’s ever written. It’s a wistful tune colored by what sounds like tropical marimbas. The melody is gorgeous, and I don’t think Ridgway’s voice has ever sounded better. But it’s the story he tells that will punch you in the gut. A woman carrying only a small suitcase and a cellphone is leaving her country, crossing the border to start a new life.
As she’s walking, she gets a call from her husband or boyfriend, I assume, who’s trying to change her mind. But it doesn’t work. “‘This country, it once was a jewel/In a wilderness so wild and so cruel/But now no one can fix it, everything’s broken/So I’m leavin’ tonight in this rain/And nothing can stop me, no chain/And least of all you, so don’t call me again,’ and she closed up her phone.” And then comes an unforgettable image. “She walked ahead slowly, her hands holding tight/A boy on the corner lost the string of his kite/And it blew past the red, white, and blue and into the gold, red, and green/Across the border.”
At first I assumed the protagonist is a Mexican, leaving her “broken” country to come to the good old U.S.A. But could it be that she’s an American going into Mexico? After all, the boy’s kite is apparently flying across the border into Mexico, so that’s the way the wind is blowing." - Steve Terrell's Tuneup / Santa Fe New Mexican 5 *****
"Just The Drowning Man and Mr. Trouble alone are worth the ride. The interplay of the Violin by Lazlo Vickers and Saxophone of Ralph Carney on The Drowning Man are pure genius. I suppose this is a rhetorical song as I don't believe any one has the answers to the questions Mr. Ridgway poses. Juxtapose the tenderness of The Drowning Man with the gritty driving blues of Mr. Trouble and you have the quintessential Ridgway. Gone Deep Underground is a snappy foot tapper with some neat keyboards by Pietra Wexstun. Before Stan goes into the 4 live tracks, he closes with We Never Close and you see Stan's well is far from dried up. The live tracks will give the uninitiated a good sense of what Stan and his fantastic band sound like live. The musicianship and song writing on this release are superb" - Amazon.com / Pete Kohut 5 stars * * * * *
"Continuing the Ridgway renaissance that started with the insanely creative, beautifully written, tightly produced Neon Mirage and the wacky road-trip fun of the Two Songs About Rome download, Mr. Trouble is a dandy (last minute expanded to 10 song) four song EP. Things kick off with a vintage Ridgway moody 1940s style orchestrated piece that just as well could have been on The Big Heat. Continuing with the full band sound, Stan slips into a full funk form with a tight backing horn section and a dancing upfront organ with All Too Much. I can’t wait to see him perform this fun rollicking commentary on modern life life next time he comes to town. Across The Border is Mexican Radio meets bassa nova as the soft lead character of the tune takes you into their mind as they plan their trip to the other side. On the title cut, Mr. Trouble, Stan breaks out his signature harmonica to open this hauntingly familiar Wall Of Voodoo-esque lyrics in this almost swamp-rock sounding gem. " - The Music Scout / Dan Lewbel 5 Stars * * * * *
STAN RIDGWAY 2010 Bio from www.stanridgway.com
"Mystery and irony are attractive to me but that said, I have no problem with entertainment," he says. "Orson Welles was a magician as well as a Shakespearean actor. There's a certain brilliance to that."
Ridgway has soaked himself in European soundtrack music, American folk tradition, primitive rock 'n' roll, blues, psychedelia, free jazz and all that is avant-garde. All of it has seeped into his musical vocabulary. "Life is absurd. But that doesn't mean it has to be meaningless," he says. "Froan early age music centered me in a chaotic world that didn't make sense."
Ridgway's uncanny ability for brushing Old World charm against contemporary disturbances and oddities just might define the disjointed landscape of 21st century life. "I've always liked tall tales, urban myths and ghost stories," he says. "I like a strong protagonist, as well as a story that unfolds with drama, color and detail. A song should take you away for awhile and into another world." Sounds like the definition of a Stan Ridgway song…
Raised in L.A., Ridgway began his love affair with Southwestern gothic 30 years ago as front man and co-founder of vanguard electro-art punks Wall of Voodoo, who he originally formed with the intention of scoring low-budget horror films. Ridgway sang on the band's debut EP and first two albums, Dark Continent and Call of the West (which included the accidental MTV hit "Mexican Radio"). "I sometimes use songs as a way to figure out the puzzle of how things fit or don't. When the balance is right, what the listener brings to it is just as important as what I bring to it," he says.
Pulling numbers from his own revolutionary past and moving into his own honed, sardonic style of present, Ridgway will be accompanied at the shows by Pietra Wexstun on keyboards, electronics and vocals; Rick King on guitar, bass and vocals. Wexstun and Ridgway have lived and worked in tandem for more than 30 years; her keyboard and vocal sounds are perfectly in tune with his not-so-typical stories of proverbial American tragedy and triumph.
"I've always thought of songs like films in the mind really, except I'm the actor and the director, the lighting and prop person and DP too. When it's working, you should be able to see the song as well as hear it."
Ridgway is a rare performer and songmaker whose enduring sketches nail the human condition down cold while his characterizations of life remain absolutely fresh and alive. The primal urges that drive his creations--whether they're searching for a home in "Underneath the Big Green Tree," or acknowledging our collective heritage in his electronic reworking of Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire"-- see Ridgway finding humanity in all stripes, as he celebrates the circus of our lives.
Ridgway's flair for concise character portraits was first noted by uber critic Greil Marcus, who called The Big Heat "probably the most compelling portrait of American social life to appear on a rock 'n' roll record since Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska." Author Mikal Gilmore said it was "the best L.A.-founded record of that year." Ridgway followed with the existential-humanist Mosquitoes (featuring the anthemic "Mission in Life," and the Euro-hit, "Calling Out to Carol"). Partyball (1991) explored the outer-limits of Ridgway's unique world, while 2002's Black Diamond was a more Spartan and personal statement on love and loss.
"At the end of the day I really consider myself just an inventor, or like a link in a chain to a tradition of song and art," the artist says. Music and songs and recording are an obsession for me — sound and art. It's all in there, the ideas and things that influenced me. To see it and tell it your own way is the challenge. That's the last true, honest place to be. It might even be the new frontier right now."