Stan Ridgway is probably the closest thing we have to Frank Zappa in the 21st century.
Like the late Zappa, Ridgway spins fascinating tales about kooks, misfits and people with skewed ideas about life. And, also like Zappa, his lyrics are strongly laced with offbeat, very dark humor. But he does differ from Zappa musically; Ridgway's material is far more accessible and not as guitar-driven.
"Bing Can't Walk," allegedly inspired by an actual TV-rehearsal accident that broke Bing Crosby's legs, has pretty bizarre subject matter, but there's no escaping the rock beat the song is wrapped in.
"Beloved Movie Star" is a wonderfully satirical poke at Hollywood's pretentious stars. Ridgway is at his sardonic best when he croons, "My beloved movie star; there's more than cold cream in your jar."
"Holiday in Dirt" is actually a collection of unreleased material that Ridgway has recorded over the last several years but left off his many solo albums for various reasons. Somehow, it all works as a cohesive Ridgway-esque package.
Ridgway's stories may seem wacky at times, but the haunting "Time Inside" shows he is capable of rendering the kind of eerie beauty found so often on his classic "Black Diamond" indie release from 1995. "Holiday in Dirt" is a refreshing departure from the musical norm.