The Red Rippers
Over There … and Over Here
A1 “I Roll” 3:25
A2 “Soldier of Fortune” 2:56
A3 “Firefight” 3:26
A4 “Who Remembers” 3:00
A5 “Vietnam Blues” 3:24
B1 “The Dark and Bloody Road” 3:59
B2 “She’s Been Down” 3:17
B3 “Body Bag” 3:17
B4 “Over The Edge” 3:35
Paradise of Bachelors presents the first-ever reissue of the previously obscure 1983 LP by the Red Rippers. Written and recorded by Navy pilot Ed Bankston, the album’s nine battle-scarred country-boogie/psych dispatches chronicle the experiences of Bankston and his fellow vets during the Vietnam War and back home. Produced in collaboration with the artist, the package includes extensive liner notes, archival photos, and (with the vinyl) a digital download coupon.
Scarce and seemingly inscrutable, the sole recording credited to the Red Rippers has long captivated and mystified record collectors. When we first encountered Over There … and Over Here, we were fascinated by the prescient, genre-dredging synthesis of Waylonesque honky-stomp with early ’80s new wave production values and eerie, out-of-time psychedelic guitar leads weirdly reminiscent of the Blue Öyster Cult, Dire Straits, and the Meat Puppets at their most desert-drunk. We were intrigued by the record’s ambiguous provenance (Oracle Records?) and moved by its complex, apparently deeply personal articulation of an enlisted man’s efforts to break on through his fear, anger, and disillusionment during and after the Vietnam War.
Once we finally tracked down songwriter, singer, and guitarist Edwin Dale Bankston in Phoenix, Arizona, he told us that he wrote these nine potent blues during the decade following his return in 1972 from serving on the Navy aircraft carrier USS Kittyhawk in Vietnam. He recorded them while stationed in Pensacola, Florida and sold the resulting 1983 album through an advertisement in Soldier of Fortune magazine, largely to other veterans. The songs chronicle his own and other vets’ harrowing experiences both in country and back home, and are utterly unlike most popular music commentaries on the Vietnam War. You’ve heard the strident protest songs blasted forth from that myth-shrouded era; many retain a visceral power and poetic outrage, but few, beyond a professed empathy for flimsy, victimized stock characters, accurately represent the actual lived experience and agency of soldiers.
Assuming the role of folklorist or documentarian, Bankston composed up to forty songs based on real-life wartime stories recounted by fellow vets who attended his concerts, many of whom were united by their marginalization and alienation from both the military and the antiwar movement alike. They felt disgust for warmongers as well as wartime atrocities, for the popular as well as the underground press. Ed’s evocative, ambivalent lyrics are at once highly critical of the U.S. government’s engagement in Southeast Asia and thoroughly patriotic. The album reflects this sense of dislocation, describing scenes of chaos, death, disembodiment and absolute burnout. It feels as relevant as ever given our ongoing foreign military engagements and the daunting challenges our veterans continue to face. In accordance with Ed’s wishes, we’re donating a share of the proceeds to a veterans’ charity.
- First-ever reissue of this rare collector’s item, featuring fully remastered audio and restored artwork
- Licensed from, and produced in collaboration with, songwriter and head Ripper Ed Bankston
- A share of the proceeds will be donated to a veterans’ charity
- Available on virgin vinyl in a limited edition of 1500, as well as on CD, digital, and cassette formats
- Vinyl edition housed in a thick 24 pt matte jacket, including a download coupon; CD housed in a matte gatefold wallet
- LPs and CDs purchased from this site include a link for immediate download of the MP3 edition
- Package includes never before seen photos of Bankston and his family, a reproduction of the 1983 Soldier of Fortune ad for the album, and extensive notes, featuring an introductory essay, a 4500-word oral history with Bankston, and complete transcribed lyrics (lyrics available in vinyl edition only; no notes with cassette version)
“Many ‘lost’ and ‘collector’s’ recordings never live up to the hype, but this nine-song collection is the real deal… These are not run-of-the-mill protest songs. These are songs by an outsider who sees all sides. A meld of raw ’70s boogie, outlaw country-rock, psychedelic guitar, and excellent D.I.Y. production, they poetically yet directly offer a view of the returning soldier’s mind from the inside. ‘Vietnam Blues’ is the only blues song you ever need to hear about that war. Bankston’s songs move far past the limits of Vietnam in reflecting the combat veteran’s experience. As thousands of servicemen and women return from battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan, these songs offer an unmatched musical empathy. Over There … and Over Here is a singular document, a rock & roll protest record born from actual spilled blood, sweat, tears, and alienation but which refuses to surrender.”
- Thom Jurek, Allmusic
The Paradise of Bachelors imprint has turned up an absolutely fascinating record here, a 1983 D.I.Y. concept album that across its nine songs charts the experience of former Navy fighter pilot Ed Bankston and his fellow comrades in Vietnam ten years earlier… I must say it’s a truly singular and compelling listening experience, never shying away from describing the vagaries of war… It’s hard to emphasize how viscerally and unflinchingly he puts across his impressions and stories from a decade earlier. Strange to think that an album that comes on like some strange amalgamation of Waylon Jennings and the Meat Puppets could so successfully impart such a multi-sided impression of the physical and psychological impact of the war experience, and yet it does. Over There… and Over Here, I don’t think there has ever been another record quite like this — and in all honestly I hope there never will be.
- Michael Klausman, Other Music
“Now something of a mythological collectors item, the ever-diligent Paradise of Bachelors have restored the Red Rippers LP as an essential Vietnam War statement from those who fought it, then got spat out by their country… This is worlds apart from righteous anti-war chest-beating but, chillingly, still sounds relevant.”
- Kris Needs, Record Collector Magazine
“Over There … and Over Here is a fascinating piece of folklore… [The songs] give glimpses into everyday life and death in the major conflict of the Cold War era.”
- The Times of London
“Strangely compelling reissue of a 1983 LP originally releases on a small Florida label by Vietnam vet Ed Bankston. Most Viet vet LPs are in the bar-boogie vein and refer to overseas experiences only in small ways. Over Here, however, is a suite of songs Bankston wrote from `72 on, and most of them refer quite specifically to his war experiences… The tunes themselves are pretty explicit lyrically, and that’s the stuff that’s really compelling. “Firefight,” “Vietnam Blues,” “Body Bag,” and the like are their titles, and the thing’s been stuck to the turntable for a few days now. Excellent liner notes as well.”
- Thurston Moore and Byron Coley, Arthur Magazine
“Over There…and Over Here is, like Rodriguez’s Cold Fact, Val Stoecklin’s Grey Life and Bobb Trimble’s Harvest Of Dreams, the rare album that transcends its status as a tantalizing obscurity. It is a record of prescience, beauty, and wisdom, a would-be hellraiser’s dispatch from the furthest reaches of hell. If you got any closer, you’d be dodging mortar fire… Merits a place at the top of a short list of crucial reissues of 2013.”
- James Jackson Toth, Aquarium Drunkard
“Recorded by Vietnam veteran Edwin Dale Bankston while he was stationed in Pensacola, Fla., the album pairs chooglin that out-toughs anything produced by CCR with bleak but up-tempo ragers that encapsulate the fear and rage felt by many soldiers during the war.”
- Jordan Lawrence, Blurt
“About as obscure as it gets. Bankston wrote these songs as a sort of purge, telling the stories of his old Nam mates and working off a lot of bitterness over the way vets were treated when they came home from the war. You haven’t heard anything quite like it, and it deserves to be heard.”
- Bill Meyer, Signal to Noise
“The album’s a treat. It’s not often that a choogling ode to mercenaries gets penned, or sung so convincingly. Authentic diatribes against “lying motherfucker” reporters, Jane Fonda, and the U.S. government are woven into woozy/bloozy tapestries that betray the deep introspection of an artist sent into the heart of darkness.”
- Alex Stimmel, Ugly Things
“With some fine fuzz sounds, near psyche guitar weirdness, country roots, and some great lyrics, we learn how bamboo prisons and local papers calling you out as a baby killer bring about some profound Vietnam Blues. Edwin Bankston was a pilot in the Navy and wrote these songs by ’73, released them in ’83, and is finally getting the attention he deserves in 2013. If you ever talked to a Vietnam vet who had that ‘thing’ — that look in his eye, that just-ain’t-right vibe when he discussed his experiences — this is the sonic equivalent of that very serious, very distinct ‘thing.’”