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Index Masters

4.5 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Wall Of Voodoo - Index Masters - Cd

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Though they found their fortunes intertwined in a punk/new wave/MTV marketing sensibility that typically confused style with substance, L.A.'s Wall of Voodoo was musically rooted in a distinctly different, often more compelling late '70s art rock ethos. Anchored by the stark, angular rhythms of the late Marc Moreland's guitar and singer/chief songwriter Stan Ridgway's sly sideshow barker vocal antics, this re-release of the band's debut 1980 EP (supplemented with raw, exemplary live tracks recorded at UC Riverside in '79) now seems more prophetic industrial music template than quirky new wave tract. If legend says their ominous, synth-drone take on Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" may have originally been intended elsewhere (WOV began as low-budget soundtrack collective), tracks like "Longarm" and "Can't Make Love" crackle with anxious energy and wit; small wonder Ridgway occasionally revisits them with success in his contemporary incarnation as acoustic singer/songwriter. The live tracks further showcase the band's cinematic bent via a medley of Morricone's main title for The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and Frontiere's Hang 'Em High theme, as well as offering up early versions of songs from Dark Continent and their 1982 classic, Call of the West. --Jerry McCulley
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 27, 2005)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Rykodisc
  • ASIN: B000AY9ORG
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #348,191 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
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!
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Format: Audio CD
The Good

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".

The Bad

Nothing notable

The Verdict

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?
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By A Customer on July 21, 1999
Format: Audio CD
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.
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By A Customer on October 17, 1999
Format: Audio CD
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.
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Format: Audio CD
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.
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Format: Audio CD
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.
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