It was 1982 when Stan Ridgway’s art-punk outfit, Wall of Voodoo entered the charts. But when their catchy song “Mexican Radio” hit the airwaves, few were privy to the genius behind the band’s concept. Originally formed as a sound track company specializing in cheap sci-fi and B-movie underground epics, Wall of Voodoo would be (wrongly) lumped in with new wave bands and enjoy the career boost of regular rotation on (then-new) MTV. The video, like the band, finally faded out of rotation, but if you thought that the music stopped there and the mind behind the bizarre hit faded quietly into one-hit-wonder status, there is something you should know: The best was yet to come.
After Wall of Voodoo disbanded, Ridgway went on to a solo career. Always teetering somewhere above or below the mainstream, Ridgway has spent the last 20 years churning out an alchemist’s catalog of unique and thoughtful music. From his debut solo release, The Big Heat, to his Songs that Made this Country Great, Ridgway’s ability to make music that adheres to no genre, yet manages to woo, is remarkable. His songs range everywhere from Broadway musical covers to synthed-out space-rock to traditional country music. To many, his ability to paint scenarios and to develop characters within his songs makes him a double threat: one part musician, one part author.
His latest release, Snakebite: Blacktop Ballads and Fugitive Songs can best be described as abstract old-timey music with a hearty helping of Wild West ethos. Just when you think you know what you are about to hear, Ridgway changes the rules.
See Stan Ridgway at the Magic Bag (22920 Woodward Ave., Ferndale); call 248-544-3030 for further information.Eve Doster is the listings editor of Metro Times. E-mail [email protected]