Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Long Ryders - Looking for Lewis and Clark

"Looking for Lewis and Clark" is another reader suggestion and a mighty fine one at that.  The song is by the Long Ryders, a really interesting LA-based band who deserved a lot more success than the pittance they received.

Guitarist/singer Sid Griffin founded the band in the early 1980's.  Named after the 1980 Walter Hill western film of the same name (but with a more traditional spelling), the group quickly gathered a following.  They released their first EP in 1983, and the band's rocked up country sound and political lyrics endeared them to critics and fans alike.  We think of the Long Ryders as sounding like a more rocking version of 1980's R.E.M.; readers who enjoy that music would be well served to check out the band's catalog.

While The Long Ryders were loosely associated with the Paisley Underground scene, many critics (correctly, in our view) consider them more of a roots rock or country rock band.  [As an aside, the term Paisley Underground refers to an LA-based style of roots rock that had strong 1960's (Byrds) and psychedelic influences.  Artists associated with the scene include The Dream Syndicate, The Bangles, Rain Parade, and The Three O'Clock.]

"Looking for Lewis and Clark" was the lead single off the group's major label debut, 1985's State of Our Union.  The song charted in the U.K. (#59) but did not hit the U.S. charts.  It did generate a bit of college radio play, but I do not recall ever seeing the video on MTV.

After a few more years of struggling to break through, the Long Ryders broke up at the end of 1987.  Sid Griffin moved to London a few years later and founded The Coal Porters, a bluegrass act.

We particularly love the call-outs of  Tim Hardin and Gram Parsons in the song.

The Long Ryders' cover of "I Want You Bad" was posted on ERV in March, 2016.

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