Review: Stan Ridgway, DVD SHOW BUSINESS IS MY LIFE
Show Business Is My Life is a great 26 song video and concert collection that should exceed any fan’s expectations. It’s inexpensive but hard to find. Try here.
Stan once looked like a craggier John Cusak. He’s aged into Johnny Cash. See here. Now John Cusak looks like the craggy young Stan Ridgway.
I loved Wall of Voodoo but followed Stan’s solo career only for a short time as it was a game of diminishing returns. The Big Heat and Mosquitos were equally good, but “I Wanna Be A Boss”(Partyball) was as lyrically weak as “Camouflague”. I didn’t stop loving Stan Ridgway but I stopped buying his records. His solo work was bested by what he wrote for Call Of The West, notably “Lost Weekend” and “Factory”.
I met Stan when I worked security for a concert lineup of Minor Threat, Wall Of Voodoo and P.I.L. He asked me my name and said to tell him about myself. I walked away from that encounter thinking I’d met the nicest man in the world. I felt like a pale, 1/5th scale Ving Rhames as Duane in the film Dave:
Duane: [Dave shakes hands with Duane just before they part company] Dave? Dave Kovic: Yeah? Duane: I would have taken a bullet for you. Dave Kovic: [smiling] Thanks, Duane
I like the videos for “Mexican Radio” and “Rumblefish” for nostalgia’s sake, but generally I have no use for the art form. Videos were a fun novelty that wore off once they eclipsed the music itself. I did get a kick out of the video for “Big Dumb Town” because they manically depict a Charlie McCarthy puppet as a scumbag Hollywood agent.
The live footage of Wall Of Voodoo makes this priceless. Guitarist Marc Moreland goes completely nuts on “Ring Of Fire”. Dark Continent is of a kind with Gang Of Four’s Entertainment! “Back In Flesh” doesn’t measure up to “Damaged Goods” but the album is in serious need of reevaluation upwards There’s a sameness to the 11 tracks but with repeated listens each becomes a masterful variation on a theme. Call Of The West is not as cohesive but the storytelling is better and the sound more epic.
The concert footage of Stan’s solo work doesn’t come off well because his work is imagined for small, intimate settings, with Stan sitting on a stool as his cigarette smoke dances in a single overhead light. The cover blurb reads, “Stan Ridgway is equal parts Raymond Chandler and John Huston, Johnny Cash and Rod Serling.” These qualities simply cannot come through in a stadium show presentation.
Visit Stan. Listen to Stan. Obey Stan. Stan the Man.