01. A Goodbye (feat. Audra Mae)
02. Man In the Moment (feat. Amos Lee)
03. Land Ho! (feat. Ravi Coltrane)
04. Trying to Believe You're Mine (feat. Alison Mosshart of The Kills)
05. Gotta Love (feat. Justin Warfield)
06. I'm Alive
07. Come On Back (feat. Battleme)
08. On Our Way (feat. Katey Sagal)
09. Life Goes On
10. Blue Angel (feat. Billy Valentine)
11. So-Called Life
Bob thiele & the forest rangers
“If there was a band playing at the Sons of Anarchy clubhouse every Friday night, the Forest Rangers would have been that band,” says the show’s music supervisor and Emmy nominated songwriter and composer, Bob Thiele Jr.
After supplying the soulful musical narrative for seven highly successful seasons of the FX drama, the Forest Rangers are releasing their debut album, LAND HO! Co-produced by Thiele and Grammy Award winning producer/engineer Dave Way (Michael Jackson, Macy Gray, Ringo Starr), the album is as much a point of arrival as it is a point of departure for the band, which features some of L.A.’s finest working musicians. Recorded during the final season of Sons of Anarchy, the experience was especially meaningful for Thiele, who sings lead vocals on a number of its songs.
“In 1979, I had the idea to make a record as a solo artist. A few things happened along the way and that idea of mine was put on hold,” explains Thiele, who, much like his father legendary record producer Bob Thiele (John Coltrane, Gil Scot Heron, Buddy Holly), has spent the majority of his career on the other side of the vocal booth: producing, playing and writing.
Thanks to the popular Sons of Anarchy’s soundtracks (over 2 million downloads and over 250,000 CDs sold worldwide) a large and receptive audience was exposed to the Forest Ranger’s music, inspiring the band to crowd-fund their album, which was an innovative experience for Thiele, who spent some years working at the major labels as an A&R executive.
Thiele co-wrote most of the songs on LAND HO! with two of his long-time songwriter pals Dillon O’Brian & Tonio K. He also used the opportunity to collaborate further with a remarkable group of artists who made significant contributions to the Sons of Anarchy soundtrack. In one of the pivotal montages in season one, singer/songwriter Audra Mae, sang an unforgettable version of Bob Dylan’s Forever Young. It seems apt her infectious ‘A Goodbye,’ would serve as the album opener, on this track the Forest Rangers, anchored by bass player Davey Faragher (Elvis Costello & The Imposters) and drummer Michael Urbano (Cracker), bring to mind the early recordings of Bill Withers. Battleme’s haunting version of Neil Young’s Hey Hey, My My from season three racked-up 10 million views on YouTube, on LAND HO!’s Come on Back he delivers incendiary vocals, accompanied by an unrelenting, thunderous drum performance by Matt Chamberlain’s (Fiona Apple, Frank Ocean). For one of the last episodes of the show, Amos Lee sang a dreamy version of Dylan’s Boots of Spanish Leather; here he adds his deep, candid vocals to Man in the Moment. And last, but hardly least, The Kills’ Alison Mosshart (who sang What A Wonderful World in season four, a song coincidentally written by Thiele’s father), brings her seductive rasp to the fiery Trying To Believe.
“What I dig about Alison is she doesn’t get inside it intellectually. She has that kind of authentic artist’s voice that’s like the blues, raw and emotional,” says Thiele, who co-wrote the song with Mosshart.
No Forest Rangers project would be complete without the voices of Katey Sagal and Billy Valentine. “Billy is in a class by himself. There is no better singer I’ve worked with,” says Thiele of Valentine, who appeared often on the Sons of Anarchy soundtrack, including season seven’s version of All Along the Watchtower, and who sings LAND HO!’s bittersweet Blue Angel.
“Katey is a force,” says Thiele of Sagal, who not only starred in Sons of Anarchy but also contributed every season to the soundtrack. For Land Ho! her vocals deliver a warm 1970s Laurel Canyon sound on the country infused On Our Way.
Rounding out the list of LAND HO! contributors is one-time real national Forest Ranger, Greg Leisz (Daft Punk, Bon Iver, Eric Clapton) who brings his lap steel, pedal steel guitar and mandolin to the album, as he often did to the Sons of Anarchy soundtrack. On hand as well is one of Thiele’s oldest musical collaborators, John Philip Shenale (Jane’s Addiction, Tori Amos), who provides exquisite string arrangements on So-Called Life and I’m Alive. “Phil is the most consummate musician I know. He’s an undiscovered genius.”
Saxophonist Ravi Coltrane’s contribution to the title track was particularly meaningful. “My father produced albums by Ravi’s father from 1961 until 1967. Historic records like Ascension and A Love Supreme. Ravi and I had not met until the night he came to the Record Plant in New York City to play on the track. It was an indescribable experience, pure energy and emotion. I was literally in tears upon hearing Ravi’s first phrases.”
Listening to LAND HO! you may hear some of what was in Thiele’s mind back in 1979 when he had the initial impulse to make a solo record, for sure you’ll hear an eclectic group of musicians enjoying their craft, strong songwriting, stellar production and a collection of unique and powerful singing voices, including his own. It might have taken Thiele 35 years to get here, but it’s clear he has arrived.