Graham Reid | | 1 min read
A few years ago Elsewhere was in receipt of the most remarkable box set. It was Next Stop is Vietnam, a 13 CD set and massive book (not booklet) which pulled together songs, photographs and stories from all sides of the Vietnam conflict and came up to the present day with the legacy of that tragic war.
You'd thnk that might have soaked up every last word on the Vietnam war, but this album was apparently recorded by Vietnam vet Ed Bankston in '72 while he was in Florida and the album was eventually released in '83.
He took out an ad for it in Soldier of Fortune magazine two years later.
Now reissued and repackaged on the charmingly named Paradise of Bachelors label, it needs to be said immediately that this is not a lost classic . . . and to suggest so might be rather overstating the case.
But in its country-rock narratives (alarmingly close to Waylon Jennings in places) and themes (songs entitled Who Remembers, Firefight, Vietnam Blues, Body Bag, The Dark and Blodoy Road) this is very interesting stuff.
I Roll links the father who fought in Second World War and the guy in the trenches of Vietnam (that's how they rolled), Vietnam Blues is the lament of a soldier coming home whose picture in the local paper but his girl has run off with a stay-home hippie and so on, and The Dark and Bloody Road (pure Waylon) speaks for itself.
The best songs are those where the mood cuts right down to low menace (Body Bag elevated by some terrific country-rock guitar parts) and the closer Over the Edge . . . all the parts overdubbed by Bankston.
So not a lost classic, but an album that deserved to be heard in '72 when he recorded it and even now.
In the extensive liner notes Bankston (now with three kids) says he quit the music business after getting 3000 copies of the album pressed up in the early Eighties, knowing that its themes would not be popular at the time.
Oddly enough though, although he doesn't mention it, within a year Springsteen would be singng Born in the USA about having a brother at Khe Sanh . . .
For a story of a personal encounter in Vietnam (one of a few at Elsewhere) go here.