Album: Long Gone Dead
. . .
While only two years separated Sundown and the follow-up, 1984’s Long Gone Dead, they were a pretty tumultuous two years, to say the least. First off, Alejandro Escovedo left the band, to start a career that is still a bit of a blind spot to me, though I’ve checked in here and there over the decades, and at some point, drummer Slim Evans left.
And so while Sundown was just the original four members, Long Gone Dead was basically Chip and Tony Kinman backed by a bunch of session musicians. And while one of those session musicians with the great Stan Lynch, the lusher, fuller sound of the record also made it seem more anonymous, even if the Kinmans still sang amazingly.
In any event, Long Gone Dead is a good record that has just one great song, “The Sound of the Rain,” which actually dated back to The Dils — which means that coming up with another batch of great songs was also a problem — but it was a stunner. Dominated by Chip Kinman’s vocals and harmonica, and featuring an utterly classic chord progression, “The Sound of The Rain” got over with a harmonized chorus that was as good as any as they’d written.
I don’t listen to the cops
They talk with wood and lead
Listen to the planes flying overhead
Listen to the sound of the loss and gain
I just listen
To the sound of the rain
But even the harmonies here are different: on Sundown, when the Kinman brothers sang together, it was evenly matched between Tony’s baritone and Chip’s tenor. But on “The Sound of The Rain,” it’s definitely Chip as the lead vocalist and Tony as the backing vocalist. This also happens on the verses, especially on the despairing final verse where they declare that they’re a band “that’s playing music for the dead.”
All in all, “The Sound of The Rain” is kind of a gloomy song, but it’s also quite lovely, especially at the end, when after declaring one final time that just listens to the sound of the rain, Chip adds “and it sounds like this:” before launching into one last harmonica solo as the wind and rain whips up around it, segueing nicely into the next song, Tony’s “Hot Wind.”
Long Gone Dead got good reviews at the time, but it went nowhere — to the point where there isn’t even a wikipedia article about it — and after that, they completely lost the plot for 1987’s self-titled hard rock album. And while the Kinmans continued to make music — in the 90s they had the experimental Blackbyrd and later dug into their roots as Cowboy Nation — I never really connected with any of it. I should probably try both again.
Which, of course, didn’t mean I wasn’t sad when Tony Kinman passed away a couple of years ago. I most definitely was, as Rank and File remain an important band in my musical history.
“The Sound of the Rain”
“The Sound of the Rain” official music video
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