Stan Ridgway Black Diamond on Limited Edition 2LP + Bonus Tracks
First Time Ever on Vinyl w/ 4 Exclusive Bonus Tracks!
Limited Edition 2LP-Set Housed in Beautiful Black-On-Black Jackets!
Best known for the new wave staple, "Mexican Radio," Stan Ridgway
was the original vocalist for pioneering electro-punks, Wall Of Voodoo. Since WOV, Ridgway has produced several solo albums that have charted in the UK and Europe. Most notable is a collaboration with The Police's Stuart Copeland called "Don't Box Me In" that was featured on the soundtrack to Francis Ford Coppola's Rumble Fish
starring Mickey Rourke, Matt Dillon and Dennis Hopper.
“Black Diamond, Stan Ridgway’s fourth solo album, is the work of a mature artist willing to take surprising risks. I cannot recall an album on which Ridgway has appeared, and this would include the long ago Wall of Voodoo period, on which he reveals so much of himself. Apparently, he has abandoned the personal mythologizing of Partyball (1991), his previous solo effort, for a more direct, confessional, approach.
Not that Ridgway’s satiric eye is not as keenly focused as ever (“Big Dumb Town”), or that his requisite gallery of emotional cripples is not also on display (the superb “Knife and Fork,” certainly to be the album’s first single). His compassion for the disenfranchised is unruly as always, as in “Down the Coast Highway,” a masterpiece, an example of what I have called elsewhere Ridgway’s “cross purpose” songwriting style. By “cross purpose” writing style, I mean that his songs pull the listener in contradictory emotional directions, the music invoking one response, the lyrics another.
One of our best singer/songwriters, he possesses a poet’s eye for nuance and detail, and also sensitive and vivid emotional states. Like other American originals, Ridgway likes to make the ordinary extraordinary. His subjects range from losses (“Gone the Distance,” a meditation on the late Kurt Cobain, and “Luther Played Guitar,” an homage to the late guitarist Luther Perkins, of the Tennessee Two, Johnny Cash’s original backing band), to betrayal (“Pink Parakeet”), to the yearning for redemption (“Underneath the Big Green Tree”).
As a (rare) cover, Ridgway also includes Bob Dylan’s “As I Went Out One Morning,” a modern version of Keats’ “La Belle Dame Sans Merci,” from John Wesley Harding (1967), the album to which Ridgway’s Mosquitos (1989) bears a noticeable similarity. Himself a belated romantic, the Keatsian echo here, as elsewhere in his work, is no surprise.
What I find remarkable about Black Diamond is its uncanniness, the way Ridgway shapes his musical forms to sound both familiar and unfamiliar, recognizable, yet alien. At times the emotional impact of his production approaches giddiness. “Luther Played Guitar” is reminiscent of early Johnny Cash, while “Stranded” sounds like it could be from the same period as Love’s masterful Forever Changes (1967).
“Wild Bill Donovan” is suggestive of Phil Ochs, while “Crystal Palace” invokes (and does not invoke) Harry Nilsson. If there is the musical equivalent of the concept “retrofitting,” then this album defines it. Moreover, Ridgway still retains his ear for the cadences and sounds of ordinary language; he continues to capture in his vocals the quality of the American vernacular.
Always a fiercely independent artist, Black Diamond is Ridgway’s first album for Birdcage Records. The result is a very strong record of vast emotional range and superb songwriting. Incidentally, the oxymoronic title of the album is not an allusion to the song (of the same name) by Kiss. Black Diamond, I believe, alludes to Ridgway’s mining of heretofore untapped emotional depths and a period of introspection; the ore is a rare find indeed. The result is a collection of gems. I hope Ridgway keeps searching the mine.” - Prof. Sam Umland
"Black Diamond, is a little different from anything I've ever written," Ridgway notes. "It's a leaner, more intimate record, kind of old fashioned really, and at the risk of sounding like some wounded folkie, this is probably the most personal record I've made so far. I'd call it a song cycle for dreamers and schemers. The songs took shape during the summer of '95, at a time when I was coming to grips with a lot of conflicting thoughts and feelings: insecurity, loneliness, the need to control, bitterness, success, failure and, of course, the Big Three: anger, love and loss."
"This is a record where I deliberately forced the songs to stand on their own," Ridgway says of Black Diamond's spare and spacious production. "The music is as simple and unadorned as we could make it. The musicians and I tried to let the songs flow out of our heads and onto the tape without a lot of fussiness and second-guessing in between. My true interest has always been in the surreal, the dream-states we encounter when we're asleep or wide awake with caffeine buzzing in our heads. And in fact, I wrote most of this music from dreams I'd had. I've really moved myself into fresh territory with these songs, I think."
"Some know him just as the long lost singer with the great Wall of Voodoo, others as one of the great unsung maverick geniuses of our time." - Melody Maker
"Black Diamond'S fast moving novellas are full of dense musical imagery, peopled with characters from a human highway 61 revisited." - NME
Stan Ridgway Black Diamond Track Listing:
1. Big Dumb Town
2. Gone The Distance
3. Knife and Fork
4. Down the Coast Hwy
5. Luther Played Guitar
7. Wild Bill Donovan
8. Man of Stone
1. Pink Parakeet
2. Underneath the Big Green Tree
3. As I Went Out One Morning
4. Crystal Palace
5. Hear That Bird
6. Here for the Long Run
7. The Need (Live)
8. Squintin' at the Sun (Live)
9. Birdcage Records (Live) (Bonus)
10. Crystal Palace In The Sky (Live) (Bonus)