Artist: Stan Ridgway
Authentic American troubadour Stanard Ridgway wowed the western pop world with his Wall of Voodoo band - eating barbecued iguana in the infectious Mexican Radio, from the band’s second album, 1982’s Call Of The West. In 1983 the band broke up and Ridgway went solo. From his 1986 debut release The Big Heat comes Camouflage, a little slice of sentimental wartime folklore. It can be read as a highly romantic, almost schmaltzy take on the shared perils of brothers in arms (with the battlefield being the Vietnamese jungles of two decades’ previous, the bad guys being ‘Charlie’ and the good guys being the American Marines). However, if you can get past the ripe whiff of patriotic jingoism which permeates this song, what follows is a great tale about a lonely private who’s lost his platoon; outnumbered and outgunned in a hostile, claustrophobic environment, he fears the worst. But it’s also a tale of unexpected courage and ultimate sacrifice. There’s a delightfully spooky, apocryphal side to it which helps offset the more floridly uncritical glorification of the American fighting man. At its core Camouflage is a song about human frailty and an unspeakably fervent desire not to die alone in a meaningless hail of bullets on some nameless patch of foreign soil. The adventurous supporting music to Ridgway’s testifying vocals is right on cue - referencing spaghetti westerns and the banjo-laden wild west in all its ragged glory. Semper Fi! Check out the low-budget but big-hearted official video below.
Posted by Max MacDonald