OUT ON the West Coast, the '60s just won't quit. "Native Sons," the first full- length album by Los Angeles' Long Ryders, is full of the folk-rock and country-rock sound founded by groups such as the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield and Flying Burrito Brothers. Rock is mostly a matter of inspired theft, though, and, to their credit, the Long Ryders seize upon the stylistic legacies and invigorate them with their own impressively varied songwriting and instrumental skills.
The Long Ryders take their Americana seriously, colorfully applying nouveau hillbilly touches of banjo, autoharp, steel guitar and mandolin to their vibrant originals. On the light-hearted "Never Got to Meet the Mom" and "Run Dusty Run," they conjure the sunshiny good humor and bounce of an electric jug band without ever sounding cornball. The chicken-plucked guitars and rollicking rhythms of Sid Griffin's "Final Wild Son" and "Tell It to the Judge on Sunday" even manage to evoke a rural version of Chuck Berry.
The band casts a more atmospheric spell on some folk-rock pieces -- particularly Steve McCarthy's haunting "I Had a Dream" and "Ivory Tower" -- with ex-Byrd Gene Clark on harmonies. On a pounding topical folk tale, "Wreck of the 809," the band convincingly reaches back past the '50s, deep into America's folk heritage, recalling "Wreck of the Old 97," one of the first rural songs to be recorded.
THE LONG RYDERS -- "Native Sons" (Frontier FLP 1013); appearing Saturday with Rain Parade at the 9:30 Club.