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The Red Rippers

Over There... and Over Here

(1-2-3-4 Go!; US: 29 Jan 2013; UK: 4 Feb 2013)

Combat rock that is oddly lackluster

Over There… and Over Here is a collection of tune by the Red Rippers, aka Edwin Bankston, a former Air Force pilot and Vietnam vet who came home from the war and began writing and singing about his experiences. Much is made of how this album is “combat music” which lays bare the soul of the American soldier. Well, maybe so, and maybe in the 1960s it was controversial. When the fad of the day is peace, then talking about war and the loneliness of the returning soldier might appear to be daring. Alas, those days are long gone, and peace as a workable goal has been consigned to the dustbin of history. With gushing salutes to the armed forces cropping up everywhere from football games to high school pep rallies to restaurant discounts, it’s tough to play the unappreciated veteran card. So this re-release just sounds odd and out of place.


More importantly, the songs are lackluster, with only “Firefight” working up a convincing head of steam. Too much of the record consists of bland country-tinged blues like “I Roll” and “Vietnam Blues”, and lite-rock workouts like “Body Bag”. Album closer “Over the Edge” is murky and affecting, but it’s too little, too late. Read Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried instead.

Rating:

DAVID MAINE is a novelist and essayist. His books include The Preservationist (2004), Fallen (2005), The Book of Samson (2006), Monster, 1959 (2008) and An Age of Madness (2012). He has contributed to The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Esquire.com and NPR.com, among other outlets. He is a lifelong music obsessive whose interests range from rock to folk to hip-hop to international to blues. He currently lives in western Massachusetts, where he works in human services. Catch up with his blog, The Party Never Stops, at davidmaine.blogspot.com, or become his buddy on Facebook (or Twitter or Google+ or whatever you prefer) to keep up with reviews and other developments.


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