on August 27, 2000
Wall of Voodoo's music is in it's own category; it is fun music; it is thinking man's music; all at the same time. This super extended version of their first album is worth it for just the first three songs: Longarm, Passenger, and "Can't Make Love". These are their "cleanest" fast-percussion, fast-lyrics and are in perfect form, stripped down to just the life of the music. The live songs are all cool because the guys were a fun bunch when playing live. Between this album and "Call of the West" was "Dark Continent" which is the best of the Stan Ridgway Wall of Voodoo. Later, Andy Prieboy (of "White Trash Wins Lotto" fame) led the singing on "Seven Days in Sammystown", their best album because it adds a romping dark richness. Buy them all. Beg for their reissue...I need backup copies!
Not having heard of Wall of Voodoo before, and having been four years old when this album originally came out, I instantly made comparisons to Devo and the B52's once I heard the opening tones and bombastic vocal delivery on "Long Arm". The guitar tones are stunning as each ring out with a biting twang. I think I even hear a slide whistle in there. The keyboard tones of "Passenger" are reminiscent of the Knight Rider theme mixed with any creepy horror movie theme.
It doesn't get any more experimental sounding than "Can't Make Love". Vocalist Stan Ridgeway sounds as though he's on the brink of madness. The Johnny Cash cover "Ring of Fire" shows how ahead of their time Wall of Voodoo was, because it uses effects and rhythms similar to a lot of hard rock music today. You may smirk the way `fire' is pronounced and everything else that sounds like it; very new wave. The live tracks are twenty five years old, yet you can't tell much of a difference from them and the songs from the EP.
That says a lot for the group because they didn't have the technology that the industry has today to make great live recordings. "End of an Era" has a melancholy sadness to it as it explores growing up. "Animal Day" has a percussive beat that you can dance too and lyrics you can laugh too. "Red Light" shows you that there's nothing that drummer Joe Nanini won't tap on, as you hear everything from symbols to wooden blocks. The disc (and live set) concludes with a fervent rendition of "The Passenger".
On The Index Sessions it's evident that Wall of Voodoo was way ahead of their time. Their combination of rock guitars and experimental sounds fell right in line with their peers, as well as establishing them in a league of their own. However, I don't think the music world was really ready for them yet. So what's your reason now?
on July 21, 1999
Two years ago, the only Wall of Voodoo song I had ever heard was "Mexican Radio," from the Call of the West album, and I didn't even know the name of the band that sang it. Until I met a man named Bessa who knew of this band called Wall of Voodoo, and an album called Index Masters. The first time I heard the song "Longarm," I listened carefully to the words, trying to figure out the meaning of its title. Obviously, the song is about a factory. As is the hit tune "Factory" from the Call of the West album. I wasn't totally sold on Index Masters, until I heard a song that changed my opinion about Wall of Voodoo forever. A remake of an old Johnny Cash song. A song called "Ring of Fire." For days I could listen to that song, thumping deep in the pit of my stomach with the bass turned all the way up, the screeching of the guitars as it wailed out a finale, and the half singin/half speaking voice of Stan Ridgway. Now, I am a die-hard Wall of Voodoo fan, at the young age of 18. I wasn't even born when they first joined forces. The fun, and interesting songs on the Index Masters album will live on forever, with generations after generations learning the wonder of Wall of Voodoo, thanks to The Almighty Bessa.
on October 17, 1999
This is such a good album that probably wasn't successful commercially . It's a total injustice. No one since has made a sound like Wall of Voodoo-- swirling synthesizers, western guitars, quirky drums, lyrics about fictitious individuals. I like this album even better than the follow-up, Call of the West.
on January 31, 2004
This is a great album, but not for the casual listener. If the only reason you like Wall of Voodoo is their hit "Mexican Radio", stick to the Call of the West album.
I want to say that the cover of Ring of Fire is a sterling example of what a cover song should be. It's not just re-played, it's re-invented; other examples would be Devo's cover of the Stone's "Satisfaction", Nirvana's cover of Devo's "Turnaround", Frente's cover of "Bizarre Love Triangle", the Damned/Motorhead's cover of "Ballroom Blitz" and Rasputina's cover of "Brand New Key". I could go on, but Wall of Voodoo's ring of fire is something special.
If you think you'll like the quirkyness of early Devo spiced with the flavor of spaghetti western music, you'll like this. Otherwise I can't recommend it.
on January 28, 2004
The Index Masters really shows the raw side of an early Wall Of Voodoo. "Longarm" starts with a simple drum machine beat and a crunchy guitar. It is followed by wonderful synths and Stan's voice with a laid back "Let's go"... The song is catchy and filled with dark tones and eerie synth soundscapes. "The Passenger" is a very potent song about a hijacked plane, which rings true in these times of terrorist threats and violence. "Can't Make Love" with its tongue-in-cheek, brutally honest lyrics and its fun new wave atmosphere is a real treat to listen to, especially for an average day player, with Stan singing "I'm a nice guy/But I don't love you/ I just wanna sleep with you". The album continues with an eerie instrumental "Struggle", as well as the popular cover "Ring Of Fire", which is one of the most unique and ingenious covers I have ever heard. There is no drums, just a rhythmic synth creating a set rhythm for the song. Stan sings the song with a crisp, smooth country-tinged voice as Marc Morelands beautiful guitar fills and riffs create a real enjoyable tune. The song ends with Marc going ape on his guitar, using a bunch of distortion, but it isn't annoying or unpleasant, it really adds to the song. The strange instrumental "Granma's House" ends the studio set, and is then followed by ten live tracks from 1979, starting with the song that Stan said was the first song he and Marc wrote, it being then the first official Wall Of Voodoo song, "End Of An Era". The live tracks are lo-fi, but not as bad as some other reviewers made it out to be.
If you wanna hear the freshly born Wall Of Voodoo or you are a hardcore fan looking for a great album, pick up "The Index Masters". I would also recommend the extremely rare "Dark Continent", as well as "Call Of The West" to get the best of the Stan Ridgway/Joe Nanini Wall Of Voodoo era. Great stuff.
on December 29, 2005
I had Wall of Voodoo's first LP when it came out and a couple of year's ago thought I would see if I could find it on CD. No such luck! The " Index Masters ", which contains several of the songs from that album was out of print. I found it on ebay several times, usually going for around $70.00 or so by the time the auction was concluded! Finally it is available for a reasonable price. This album is a gem, I recommend it to anyone who loves 80's or Punk or New Wave Music. As a previous reviewer stated, Wall of Voodoo was really ahead of the times!
on March 6, 2007
A welcome sight, the original EP with added bonus tracks that some ended up as "B" sides on 12" singles. You just can't beat "Ring Of Fire" & "Can't Make Love". So buy this one & if you like this album, you'll want to get their first album "Dark Continent" which is a expensive one right now but worth the money & "Call Of The West". As long as Stan Ridgeway was the lead vocalist, this band was great.
on May 23, 2011
I am glad to see this is back in print. It was not available for many years, and this is an album that belongs in the all time great new wave music pantheon. Unfortunately many people only know of Wall of Voodoo as a "One Hit Wonder", that one hit being Mexican Radio. I respectfully disagree with the other reviewer who stated that if that's how you know Wall of Voodoo then you should stick with the Call of the West album. I actually think this album is closer in spirit to Mexican Radio than Call of the West. They share the same wry, sardonic, twisted Stan Ridgway humor, while the material on Call of the West other than Mexican Radio is a bit darker, but without the humor.
This album is actually an expanded version of Wall of Voodoo's first EP. That EP consisted of the first six songs on this album. The rest has been padded out with a bunch of live tracks. And I do mean padded. Many of these tracks are not too memorable, but there are a couple of gems, most notably the medley of Spaghetti Western themes. A tip: If you want to save some money, just get that along with the first six tracks. In fact, of the original six tracks, two, Struggle and Granma's House are instrumentals. I always kind of liked Struggle as an interlude between the two best songs on the original EP and Granma's House always brought the record (yes, I still have the vinyl) to a somehow appropriate close. But the two best songs are the criminally overlooked Can't Make Love, and the brilliant cover of Ring of Fire. I seem to recall reading somewhere once that June Carter Cash really liked this version, but I won't swear to it. Play the sample of Ring of Fire and you will know instantly if this is for you.
Here's another tip. If you like this, pick up Stan Ridgway's first solo album after leaving Wall of Voodoo, called The Big Heat. Not as good as this album, but a satisfying listen nonetheless, and it would be a better second album than the aforementioned Call of the West.
But above all else, buy this before it's out of print again.
on January 8, 2012
Wall of Voodoo / The Index Masters: Their EP is filled out with several Amazing Live tracks and the result is their greatest CD release. Their version of Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" is Great and their combo of the movie themes "The Good the bad & the ugly/ Hang `em High" is not to be missed. A true gem. Five Stars