The ‘where are they now’ pile, 3: Wall of Voodoo

Call Of The West

“Harshly awakened by the sound of six rounds of light caliber rifle fire…”

A quick post – I’ve just been spending some time rediscovering early-80s LA band Wall of Voodoo, probably most famous for ‘Mexican Radio’, and perhaps for vocalist Stan Ridgway’s subsequent (and similarly singular) solo hit ‘Camouflage’. God I loved that song – I’m a sucker for a ghost story, and the delivery made me laugh – and I went back to his old band. I’d forgotten how good they could be – a strange mix of pretty harsh synths, film score atmospherics and twangy guitar, with Ridgway’s nervy voice telling these tall tales over the top. I guess they didn’t want to be like all the LA punk bands around them, and while you could call them ‘new wave’ they kind of stand out on their own.

No ‘Mexican Radio’ here, just their very different version of Cash’s ‘Ring Of Fire’ from 1980, which really should be heard, and the song that was always one of my favourites, the title track of their second album from 1982, Call Of The West. This is a great yarn about a guy heading west to start again, and being warned to keep moving on by an old man who knows “you’re not from round these parts”. Falling asleep, our hero awakes to find himself “peering down the muzzle of a weapon held by a drunken liquor store owner.”

“‘There’s a conflict,’ he said. ‘There’s a conflict between land and people… The people have to go…”

To find out how this take on Turner’s frontier hypothesis turns out, you’re going to have to listen to the song, right?

Ring of Fire‘ – Wall of Voodoo – Wall of Voodoo EP

Call of the West‘ – Wall of Voodoo – Call of the West

You can still track down Call of the West in record shops over here and at Amazon. I don’t recommend the records after this one as it’s a very different band. The 1980 EP-plus-live tracks-etc Index Masters CD was re-released in 2005 and should also be around.

Official site here, myspace, and good fansites here and here.



About jkneale

BothBarsOn's London correspondent.

Posted on June 4, 2008, in where are they now pile and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Hello James (& Bon!)

    Lovely work chaps…in your 80’s indie enclave! Was I with you when you bought Camouflage? I remember it soundtracking the summer of ’86, getting the train to St Albans and coming home clutching three twelve inch singles that defined my musical tastes thereafter; Crystal Crescent by Primal Scream, Whole Wide World by The Soup Dragons, and of course This Boy Can Wait by The Wedding Present.

    The new Gedge effort is doing the rounds at the moment, and it’s a wee step on from Take Fountain. I find it difficult to reconcile the lovelorn loser who wrote the maudlin My Favourite Dress with the testosterone fuelled Californian luvver boy that now like a fortysomething Mike Skinner.

  2. Hang on, I have those 12″s too… My new policy on the Weddoes is that they were great up until Bizarro and then took themselves way too seriously…

    One of the two authors of this blog is going to see the Stuffies play ‘Eight-Legged Groove Machine’ all the way through, supported by Jesus Jones, in October. And the other is seeing the Hoodoo Gurus… maybe it’s time to face the awful truth – nostalgia is an ugly thing 🙂

  3. Is it nostalgia if they’re still going? TWS had a break but have been releasing new stuff in the last few years as have the Weddoes.

    Then again neither are oil paintings I guess

  4. I’m guessing that it’s The Soup Dragons that over stepped the Scots Indie Jangleometer?

  5. Well i haven’t forgiven them for ‘I’m Free’. And probably never will…

  6. Whole Wide World still rocks my whole wide world of Scottish Pop.

  7. yes, that’s a keeper…

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