The Red Rippers: Lost Country Psych LP Sees New Light

"[The record displays an] insider's perspective almost entirely lacking among American popular music's more strident and pacifist body of antiwar songs," Greaves says. "Ed's album is so effective because of its moving ambivalence. While antiwar, it is not anti-military by any means. Considering all the current news about troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and the terrible neglect and disrespect still facing our veterans at home -- 30 years later, the song sadly remains the same -- we felt this was a particularly relevant reissue."

Bankston is quick to point out that the songs aren't purely autobiographical: "A lot of the ideas for the different songs came from different guys [met in Vietnam]. I'd play one of those songs [while] taking a break, and a guy'd come up to me and say, 'What's that song?' I'd say, 'That's one of my songs,' and they'd say, 'You should write a song about this' -- because they had some experience that they thought would be a good song. Quite a few of the songs in there actually kind of came about like that. They weren't all about things I did myself, [some songs were] inspired by things guys told me about, things they had experienced, and it was there was of getting it off their chest and sharing it."

The advertisement that ran in the December 1983 issue of Soldier of Fortune magazine.
Bankston never released a followup record, saying he gave up music professionally in "'86 or '87." He began working as a carpenter and settled in Phoenix, not far from where he spent his pre-war youth at Eleven Mile Corner in Pinal County.

"I went to Nashville, and I tried real hard to get something going there," he says. "I tried different outfits in L.A. But I finally said, 'Well, you know I gotta do something else. I'm not going to make it playing music like this.' I was married, had some kids, and thought, well, I guess I better just be a square. I gave it a good shot and it didn't work out. So it's time to move on."

Bankston is excited for people to get a fresh chance to hear the album, and he's making the most of the new push for the record: a share of all proceeds from the album's sale will be donated to the Wounded Warrior Project, a charity of his choosing. It would seem Greaves and Smith's response to the LP is markedly different than what Bankston heard in 1983.

"I'd put it around to a few different labels," he chuckles. "Actually [I sent the record to] anybody I could get a hold of. I tried 10 or 12 different people and I didn't get any interest in it. A couple of them told me, 'Nobody cares about the subject matter of this record.' You know how it is in the music business: You never get a straight answer. But I said, 'Well, heck, I'll just do it myself.'"

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