The Beat Farmers, left to right: Rhino executive Dan Perloff, Richard Foos (Rhino Co-founder/Owner), Gary Stewart, Rich Schmidt, Buddy Blue, Buddy’s girlfriend Allison, Rolle Love, Country Dick Montana.
The Beat Farmers’ debut album Tales of the New West was recorded in the summer of 1984 with a bare-bones budget of $4500 — the majority of which was spent on a single-day marathon session at Capitol Records’ in-house studio. The album was released the following year on Rhino Records and went on to sell over 50,000 units.
At the time, the signing of the band to Rhino was unexpected because the reissue-intensive label rarely released albums by new artists. The odd-couple pairing was arranged by Dan Perloff, a young Rhino employee who was turned on to the band while he was attending SDSU. He caught one of their Spring Valley Inn gigs and was sold.
“Gary Stewart, who was my boss and mentor at Rhino, I was just telling him about them,” he explained. “We were both really into the whole roots scene that was going on with The Blasters, Rank and File, and The Long Ryders, and I was like, ‘You’ve gotta see these guys down here, they’re amazing.’ So, he was like ‘Why don’t you tape them?’ He was like, ‘Borrow my cassette player, make a tape and send it back up to me.’ So that’s what I did, and he really loved them. He came down to see them and that’s where the whole thing started.”
The Beat Farmers will release a new two-CD deluxe edition of Tales of the New West on April 2.
The band wasn’t met with as much enthusiasm by the higher-ups at the label, but they eventually agreed to sign them. At the time, Rhino would occasionally release albums by new artists, but they were often recordings that had already been completed. Rhino paying for The Beat Farmers to record was unusual for the label, but the small financial gamble paid off and planted the seeds for a new venture.
“It ended up being a big success for Rhino,” Perloff explained. “Gary ended up starting a division called RNA, which was ‘Rhino New Artists.’ He put out albums by Rank and File, Exene Cervenka, John Doe, and Steve Wynn.”
The last reissue of Tales of the New West came out on Rhino’s Handmade imprint in 2004. Perloff is releasing a new two-CD deluxe edition of the album on April 2. The set’s second disc will be a live recording of one of their Spring Valley Inn gigs from 1983. A gatefold, vinyl edition of the original album will also be available on May 7.
“I’ve done some other projects and things that I was pretty into, but nothing that even comes near how important this first Beat Farmers album is to me,” Perloff said. “If it can just be written about again, talked about again and if people recognize it again. I’m not thinking it’s going to sell five or ten-thousand units or anything like that. I’m pretty realistic, but I just think it would be a great thing if people who didn’t know about them got to experience them and other people got to remember how great they were.”