|All Artists: Stan Ridgway|
Members Wishing: 1
Total Copies: 0
Label: Geffen Special Products
Release Date: 11/20/2001
Genre: Alternative Rock
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPCs: 020642438542, 720642438527, 720642438541
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Stan's genius shines through - a pop gem with superb product
Eric J. Anderson | Ankeny, Iowa | 07/10/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I haven't heard all of Stan Ridgway's albums, but I was apalled to find that Partyball was one of his lesser-rated efforts according to customer reviews. I am determined to set that record straight. At the outset, I should state that I found Wall of Voodoo to have little appeal. Apart from a few cuts on the Call of the West CD, Wall of Voodoo was Stan Ridgway in the sandbox, playing around with words, sounds, and noises -- a preparatory step toward making real music. I bought two Wall of Voodoo CDs, and sold them both. After Stan left the band, they actually improved, especially the purely musical aspect of their work. Stan's songs for Voodoo were sparse, vestigal, primitive. This is mostly where I find fault with Voodoo. The lyrical tales may have been adequate to make great songs, if the musical accompaniment had been better. But I couldn't get past the poor guitar playing and bad arrangements.
When Stan went solo, the quality jumped. Each album saw a step forward in sophistication, with Partyball at the peak. It is almost a fully realized effort, with excellent production, track sequencing, clever little interludes, tremendous energy in performance, and breadth of subject matter -- always with the point of view a little askew, but suiting perfectly Stan's oddball vocal style.
Partyball begins with Jack Talked (like a man on fire), a herky jerky tale of insanity, which Stan punctuates by half shouting, half singing, and twisting his mouth around the strange lyrics ("he took personality tests, and stapled them to his lower lip"), sounding as if he is on the verge of an appointment with a straightjacket himself.
I Wanna Be A Boss remains Stan's magnum opus. This tale of dreaming castles in the sky builds to a near-symphonic climax, never faltering, perfectly expressing the escapism of the working class trapped in 9-to-5 drudgery.
The hits keep on coming, with Roadblock, a classic Ridgway "fugitive song," a verbal portrait of small town America. A community lies in wait to ambush a man with "crazy eyeballs jumpin' left and right in time to an 8-track playing Foghat" as he drives unsuspectingly into the sherriff's trap. But at the end, everyone gets an unpleasant surprise.
Stan gets a bit more abstract on the creepy Snaketrain and the tender (I See) Right Through You. These are also beautiful songs in their own way, the latter a genuine heartbreak that I find strangely moving.
With Gumbo Man we are back into the subject of shady underworld characters. The cheesy 60's organ solo beats all, and Gumbo Man is so infectious they actually played it on the radio in our town.
Harry Truman is more muscially contemplative. If its meaning is obscure, it is no less seductive. John Lennon's Come Together never made any sense, either. The slithery guitar playing oozes cool -- this song slides down like an oyster.
Overlords is a like a little science fiction movie. The characters are counterparts to the poor grunts in I Wanna Be A Boss, only this time their bosses are intergalactic slave-drivers. I suppose this song is a little mundane, but it's still fun.
If Partyball flirts with insanity at the start, at the end, it dives right into the deep end of the pool. One can make little sense of Uba's House of Fashions, but I cannot resist Stan's psyched and psycho delivery, as he sings about the strange goings-on in this high-class dress store, long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away. The music marries beautifully with Stan's vocal histrionics, and then the song starts running BACKWARDS, complete with guitar solo. To my mind, this is another Ridgway classic.
I consider Uba to be a fitting end to Partyball. Beyond Tomorrow is more like a bonus track. The band sets up a groove and Stan raps for six minutes, lyrics that sound like a cross between Futurama and notes scribbled on an LSD trip. Surely this is the weakest cut.
Partyball is produced by Stan Ridgway. This is his vision, and he deserves the glory. It sounds as if he had a bigger budget on this album, and used it wisely, to craft the arrangements and songs with changes in mood and instrumentation and vocal delivery to keep things interesting. At the risk of repeating myself, I Wanna Be A Boss is a masterpiece. Stan is magically on target with Partyball -- he could do no wrong. The songs are melodic -- as melodic as Ridgway gets, anyway. He knew exactly how to voice the band and his own vocals so that everything "gelled." I haven't heard all of his subsequent albums, but lately his production style has been a little too spare for my taste. (There is some beautiful work on the Anatomy CD, though.) If you want prime Ridgway, this is the collection you should buy.
Five stars, without reservation. (And pay attention to Robert Moore's review, below. Oddly, he was as perplexed as I that this album did not rate higher among the fans.)"
Stan Ridgway's most unjustly neglected album
Robert Moore | Chicago, IL USA | 07/09/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Most critics regard PARTYBALL as something of a disappointment following Stan Ridgway's superb MOSQUITOS, an assessment that I have always been perplexed by. No, it isn't as strong an album as MOSQUITOS, and much of his work that followed was often stronger, but every time that I have ever listened to this album it has been with an incredible sense of joy at how incredible most of the songs are. A few, in fact, are as good as anything Ridgway has ever done. In other words, PARTYBALL is only a disappointment when compared with the highpoints of the rest of Ridgway's work. On its own merits, this is a profoundly underrated album.
After a somewhat weak intro, the album lurches into "Jack Talked (Like a Man on Fire)" driven, as usual, by Ridgway's astonishingly odd but exhilarating lyrics. But this is just a warm up for my favorite cut on the album (and perhaps my favorite Stan Ridgway song period), "I Want to Be a Boss," a strange song in which an unhappy and somewhat oppressed worker fantasizes about being "a boss," which segues into imagining being Howard Hughes, all the way up to watching "ICE STATION ZEBRA in the nude." What I like about the song is not just the absurdity of his fantasy, but the underlying understanding that fantasies like this seem all too familiar because most of us find our jobs to be emotionally and materially unsatisfying. Before the song ends, his fantasizing has taken on epic proportions equally to his own unhappiness. But the album hardly slacks off as it eases into "Roadblock," which reflects the kind of pulp tragedy that permeates so much of Ridgway's work. "Snaketrain" is, in its own way, quite beautiful, with a beautiful melody under girding Ridgway's typically unexpected lyrics. The chorus is among the loveliest in his catalog. The next highlight for me is wonderfully upbeat interplay between Ridgway's vocals and organ in "The Gumbo Man," another wonderfully weird composition, followed by the somber "Harry Truman," which begins with begins with the deflation of myths about the manhood about American iconic movie stars John Wayne and Rudolph Valentino ("John Wayne was always bald and had a woman's name"-i.e., Marion Morrison) and the assertion that "Harry Truman finally dropped the bomb so that they could go to sleep at night." "Overlords" is a truly menacing song full of threat and the kind of nervousness that populates the pulp world that Ridgway so often deals with in his songs. For me the album only weakens in the final two cuts, which I find far weaker than anything else on the disc.
For twenty-five years Stan Ridgway has been on of the most unique and talented songwriters in American music, yet his work remains far less known than it deserves to be, much like this album. Even fans of Ridgway unjustly neglect this album. If you don't know Ridgway's work, I can strongly recommend this fine album (though I recommend going on to MOSQUITOS, his best album, or the excellent anthology THE BEST OF STAN RIDGWAY: SONGS THAT MADE THIS COUNTRY GREAT). And if you are already a fan of Ridgway but have avoided this album because of its reputation, I strongly recommend it. It is a fine album that I firmly believe deserves reevaluation."
PartyBall will spellbind you !
Phil Gormley | England, UK. | 02/20/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This album is like a treasure you come across by accident. Dont be fooled by the cover. It is such a well produced album with such musical diversity you feel like you are reading a Raymond Chandler book with its eccentric tracks that are exciting to the imagination and send you off to a world of imagination that propells into becoming your very own film director as the stories unfold. Musically it's flawless and unique and can only be conceived by the master story teller of STAN RIDGWAY."