The Long Ryders: Native Sons (1984)

The bands of the late 80s and early 90s -- Uncle Tupelo, the Jayhawks, Whiskeytown -- get a lot of credit for the roots rock/country rock revival.  But I think a lot of people overlook some of the great Americana bands of the college radio mid-80s heyday.  Jason & The Scorchers. Beat Farmers.  And of course the Long Ryders.

Part of the Southern California Paisley Underground crew, the Ryders shared some of those bands' affinity for 60s garage rock and psychedelia, particularly on their fantastic debut EP 10-5-60 (which comes paired on most CD versions of the Native Sons album).  But they added a healthy dose of country rock and Gram Parsons to this mix, as well as a jangly guitar sound comparable to R.E.M. and other college radio bands of the era, resulting in a mix that manages to conjure up a 60s Nuggets compilation, post-Parsons-era Byrds, and 70s country rockers like Poco, while snuggling in comfortably alongside other post-punk mid-80s guitar bands fuel-injected with a healthy dose of Southern twang.

So you get upbeat roots-rock romps like "Final Wild Son" and "Run Dusty Run" and the excellent "Tell It To The Judge On Sunday"; twangy pop like "Still Get By"; and the phenomenal post-punk rocker "I Had A Dream"; not to mention some lovely semi-acoustic tracks like "Too Close To The Light."  It makes for a nice package overall, particularly with the addition of the EP (adding the rollicking "You Don't Know What's Right..." and the more outwardly Paisley/psychedelic "And She Rides").

The rest of the band's output was riddled with greatness as well, making the fairly inclusive (save a few unfortunate omissions) Final Wild Songs box set a great investment.  And after a few decades apart, they regrouped earlier this year for an unexpected reunion album, Psychedelic Country Soul, which shows the band still able to capture some of the old magic.

Here's the video for "I Had A Dream" (which fills me with all kinds of joy!):
...and "Tell It To The Judge On Sunday":
How about a live take on "Run Dusty Run"?