sons of the city ditch cvrSons Of The City Ditch – Pat Todd and The Rankoutsiders (Dog Meat)

Pat Todd and The Rankoutsiders albums are like hernia operations: You don’t know you need one until somebody tells you, and then you can’t do without it. “Sons Of The City Ditch” is the outfit’s seventh long player and is no less desirable than the six that came before it.

You can jump anywhere into the Rankoutsiders discography and you’ll come up smelling like roses, but if you’re popping your cherry you might as well do it with this one. It’s on resurgent Australian label, Dog Meat,who purveyed some prime rock and roll beef back in the ‘80s and ‘90s, and it’s going to be considerably easier to find than the rest of the back catalogue. 

Bonus points: Pat is about to embark on an extensive Australian solo tour so you can ask him to sign a copy. 

The observant will know that Pat Todd cut his teeth with the raw and prolific punk band, The Lazy Cowgirls, in Los Angeles in the ‘80s and ‘90s. They came across as a blend of the early Saints, the “LAMF” Heartbreakers and the Ramones, and punched out a long string of records on labels like Bomp!, Sympathy for The Record Industry and Grown Up Wrong

The Rankoutsiders have been a different proposition since their 2006 formation in L.A. – they’re less frenetic and more rootsy than the Cowgirls, and the songs have more room to breathe. Pat’s stories of tough times and tougher women come to the fore. 

The City of Angels has a million stories to tell and damned if Pat Todd and The Rankoutsiders won’t tell them all before their time runs out. 

Yes, “Sons of The City Ditch” is very much the work of a band, with no showboating or cheap gimmickry. Guitarist Nick Alexander is the sole remaining co-founder. He goes stride for stride with another long-termer in Kevin Keller. The driving engine room of drummer Walt Phelan and Steven Vigh cooks up a storm.

“Living In a World of Hurt” opens the record and its searing riff and horns assist leaves a sting that hangs in the air after its final note dies. “Always Have To Show” hangs off a killer melody line and some snaking guitar.    

Rankoutsiders songs often reflect truisms about how the stars look when viewed from the gutter, and “Long In The Tooth (Before the Dolls)” is no exception. “Stagger Swagger” is a simple yet effective bar room knees-up with a message: When you fall, start all over again. 

The bawdy “Back Down In The Basement”, “Cheap Shot Artist” and “Venus De Milo Broke My Back” are no lesser tunes, all kicked along by Pat’s irresistible and urgent vocal stylings and some adept guitar nudges. “Goodbye To The World” gets a dollop of greasy blues harp to complete the package.

There are two covers: The take on David Johansen’s “Donna” shows impeccable taste and “Hi Ho Silver Lining” must have been committed to tape in honour of the recently departed Jeff Beck and benefits from its raw treatment and stinging guitar solo. 

The title track would have sat well on a second Heartbreakers album if the band had kicked long enough to make one. 

Ever heard the term “bar band” used as a weapon of disparagement? Pat Todd and The Rankoutsiders put paid to that shit. Take the tip: A no risk purchase if you have a semblance of longing for soulful, Real Rock and Roll. 


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