by Dan Gibson
Whenever unheard music by Rainer Ptacek is released the city of Tucson should declare some sort of city-wide holiday. A lot of Rainer's music is out of print, previously released on a strange assortment of European and/or extinct music labels, but thankfully English label Fire Records is planning on reissuing much of his catalog in the near future. However, for now, there's a "lost" release from the Rainer archives: a recording of Rainer playing with then-Giant Sand rhythm section Joey Burns and John Convertino from July and August of 1997, not long before the relapse of brain cancer set in that took his life in November of that year.
Roll Back the Years is the sort of record that shows off exactly what people liked about Rainer's music. Obviously he was a wildly talented guitar player, but he also just had a wonderful spirit, and that's something you could hear anytime he played. Ages ago when I worked at the long-gone Hear's Music on Campbell, I would tell people that if they didn't like Rainer's music, I questioned whether they liked music at all. In 2011, listening to Roll Back the Years, I still feel the same way.