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Classic American rock 'n' roll

The Outriders
The Outriders
By The Outriders

Bandit Records: 1987

Buy it now


This review first appeared in the October/November 1987 issue of A Critique of America.

The Outriders' music is straight-ahead American rock 'n' roll. Not the much-ballyhooed "roots" rock, just plain old regular rock 'n' roll. "Roots" are for people who've forgotten who they are and have to go looking; The Outriders know exactly who and what they are: An American rock 'n' roll band.

They've honed their chops all over San Diego, opening for The Beat Farmers and Mojo Nixon, sharing stage time with Tomcat Courtney and Cindylee Berryhill.

But The Outriders are probably closer to Creedence Clearwater Revival than anyone else you might compare them to. They're got that same grounding in pure rock 'n' roll, and if anything, The Outriders' songs are even better than those on CCR's debut. (Hey, CCR was very good eventually, but John Fogarty was still getting warmed up on that first album.)

Every song on this debut is classic American rock, from the modern railroad tune of "Sunset Limited" to the haunting "Death Valley Junction" and the rollicking "Open Up the Coffin." Memorable melodies each, and it seems only a matter of time before other bands are adding them to their repertoires.

What those other bands won't have is the combination on this album – Ken Layne's New Orleans twang on vocals coupled with Rick Wilkins' aggressive guitar; Sam Chammas' rock-steady beat on drums and John Doran's bass helping keep time.

On stage, it is Layne who is in charge, with a powerful presence that center's the audience's attention on him. On vinyl, Wilkins' guitar is just as much in command, with his powerful solos and hammering rhythm.

While recorded in a studio, this album has more of a "live" feel to it than most supposed live albums – it's like sitting in Kelly's Pub off the San Diego State campus on a Friday night and listening to the band.