The Legendary Stardust Cowboy
Live in Chicago
Bughouse/Pravda Records (www.pravdamusic.com/)

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This is the Legendary Stardust Cowboy's first album in a number of years, and the only one which is reliably in print, at least for the moment. It contains great live versions of many of his classics, such as "I Took a Trip on The Space Shuttle", "Standing in a Trashcan (Thinking of You)", "My Underwear Froze to a Clothesline", as well as the immortal, inimitable "Paralyzed". Plagued by lack of music industry interest, and blessed by a hugely loyal cult following, this record brings the Ledge back into our ears as well as our hearts and minds.

Listen!
"I Ride a Tractor"
Although the Legendary Stardust Cowboy's music, lyrics, enthusiasm and style defy description, words must suffice here. Imagine Captain Beefheart meets Dick Dale. Imagine a rodeo cowboy "whoooo hooo"-ing at the sight of a pretty girl coupled with Hasil Adkins, or Speedy West and Jimmy Bryant playing with Johnny Rotten, and I think you'll get the picture. From his humble beginnings playing on the hood of his car at the hamburg drive in in Lubbock, Texas to his appearance on "Laugh In", the Ledge doesn't lose his energy for a minute. Who cares if the lyrics don't make much sense? Who cares if he's got a fixation with outerspace travel? The Ledge never lacks for energy and enthusiasm, and any talent he may lack as a singer or lyricist is quickly forgotten when he wails into "Radar":

When I roast weenies
On my home patio
My baby tracks me down with radar
I'm telling you she's really sweet
I'm telling you she's really a treat
My baby tracks me down with radar, radar
On this recording he's playing with a group of musicians who know his songs and who seem to understand him as well as anyone can. The arrangements are sharp and concise; when it calls for blues, the band plays blues, and when it calls for a surf-y rockabilly style, they dish that out, too. These players have got it going on, and provide a solid, listenable backup to the Ledge's hootin' and hollerin'. Their ability to hold it together while the Ledge does his thing really makes this record shine.

The liner notes are enthusiastic but historically incorrect; the Ledge was aiming for The Tonight Show, not The Ed Sullivan Show.

The recording is completely live, taped at Lounge Ax in Chicago, Illinois. Unlike most so-called "live" recordings, it is completely without overdubs, yet the recording quality is top-notch, at least for this type of record. You will not be subjected to the basement 4-track quality which plagues so many recordings of garage bands and quasi-obscure artists such as The Ledge. The tape continued to roll even during the breaks between songs, and so the listener gets a taste of what it's like to be in the room with The Ledge, as his friends call him. From the cheesy jokes to the deadly serious protestations that the only way to promote the CD is to get on a network TV talk show, this CD is all Ledge and it's about time! - Miss Di

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Audio © 1999 Bughouse/Pravda, used by express permission

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Copyright 2000 Hollow Ear