TVD Radar: The Beat Farmers, Tales of the New West 2CD set in stores 4/2, vinyl 5/7

VIA PRESS RELEASE | The Beat Farmers, one of roots-rock’s most beloved but unsung combos, finally get their due with a deluxe reissue of their classic 1985 debut album, Tales of the New West, out April 2, 2021 from Blixa Sounds.

This deluxe CD reissue features all 12 tracks from the original album released on Rhino Records, as well as a second disc, Live at the Spring Valley Inn, 1983, a 21-song recording of the Beat Farmers on their home turf of San Diego that helped land the band a record deal. A gatefold package houses the two discs with a 24-page booklet featuring rare photos and other images. Also included are liner notes by the reissue’s producer, Dan Perloff, an early champion who discovered the band while attending San Diego State University and brought them to the attention of Rhino Records executive Gary Stewart.

Tales of the New West features the Beat Farmers’ classic lineup of singer-guitarists Jerry Raney and Buddy Blue, bassist Rolle Dexter, and drummer-singer Country Dick Montana. With their trademark double-barreled attack, the Farmers had the unique talent to deliver a mix of earnest roots-rock with killer riffs on originals like Blue’s “Lost Weekend” and Raney’s “Showbiz,” and choice covers of the Velvet Underground’s “There She Goes Again” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Reason to Believe.” They capped it all off with the over-the-top lunacy of Country Dick on tracks such as “California Kid” and “Happy Boy.”

Steve Berlin of Los Lobos co-produced Tales of the New West, and blows sax on “Showbiz.” Other special guests included Chip and Tony Kinman of Rank & File, Peter Case of the Plimsouls, Sid Griffin of the Long Ryders, and the Bangles’ Vicki Peterson, as well as future Beat Farmer Joey Harris and “Bigger Stones” songwriter Paul Kamanski.

Following the release of Tales of the New West, the Beat Farmers signed to Curb Records, with Buddy Blue opting to leave the band and Joey Harris stepping in as his replacement. After four albums for Curb/MCA, the Beat Farmers went the indie route, releasing two albums on Sector 2 Records.

Sadly, tragedy struck in November 1995, when Country Dick died on stage, behind his drum kit, while performing in Whistler, British Columbia. The surviving members of the band decided to call it quits but did eventually get back together in a number of different configurations, including some with Buddy Blue back in the fold.

Eventually, the survivors reunited under the moniker of the Farmers, but then tragedy hit once again: Buddy Blue died of a heart attack at his home in La Mesa, California. He was 48. Still, the Farmers, led by Jerry Raney, continue to play on, with a new lineup intent on keeping the spirit of their fallen comrades in the original Beat Farmers alive and kicking.

“In a perfect world the Beat Farmers would have been huge, but that’s not how the business works,” Perloff writes in the liner notes. “Has this album stood the test of time? In my humble opinion, I believe that the answer is a resounding yes and this album sits high up on the American Roots Rock Pantheon. I feel that it was one of those albums from that period that influenced and helped pave the way for the much larger Americana movement of the 1990s and 2000s, and my view is supported by the album being listed time and again on ‘All Time Top Americana Album’ lists far and wide.”

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