FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Ry Cooder’s Genre Blender

by PETER STONE BROWN

Ry Cooder stopped touring on a regular basis several years ago, but every so often he likes to play at one of the best venues in the country, The Great American Music Hall in San Francisco.  I was lucky enough to see him there five years ago with Nick Lowe.

This is Cooder’s second live album.  The first one, Show Time was recorded at the same venue 36 years ago, and on this new release he is joined by two musicians who appeared on that album, singer Terry Evans and the amazing Tejano accordion player, Flaco Jiménez.

Asides from being one of the greatest slide guitarists and finger pickers in the world, Cooder is one of the great chroniclers and archivists of American traditional and popular music.  He has consistently in his 40 plus years of recording, and has brought seemingly disparate conglomerations of musicians together with brilliant results.  This new album recorded in 2011 over two nights at the end of the summer is no exception.

Backed by Corridos Famosos, which includes Jiménez; singers, Terry Evans, Arnold McCuller, and Juliette Commagere; Cooder’s son Joachim on drums; Robert Francis on bass and the ten-piece Mexican brass band La Banda Juvenil, the album is a totally joyous romp that is part a Cooder best of and a trip across the American landscape that combines Woody Guthrie, R&B, gospel, and Tex-Mex with one eye always on the blues. cooder

Two songs from Show Time, “School Is Out” and “Dark End of the Street,” are repeated, but the new versions are equally as good and actually don’t beg a comparison with the old ones.

Cooder’s two previous studio albums, Pull Up Some Dust And Sit Down and Election Special were pointedly political, the former including the great track, “No Banker Left Behind,” and the latter released just in time for the 2012 campaign.  On the new album he’s slightly more subtle, but includes two original song from “Pull Up Some Dust,” “El Corrido de Jesse James,” in which Jesse James looks down from heaven and sees what Wall Street bankers are up to.  Jiménez weaves his accordion around Cooder’s vocal and when the horn sections comes in between verses, the result is somewhat astounding.  The other song, “Lord Tell Me Why,” sung by Terry Evans and Arnold McCuller is the funkiest song on the album and starts with the line: “Lord tell me why a white man ain’t worth nothin’ in this world no more.”

Two Woody Guthrie songs, long a part of Cooder’s repertoire, “Do Re Mi” and “Vigilante Man” are also included.  The great thing about Cooder singing Guthrie is he never imitates and knows how to make both songs now at least 70 years old totally relevant.

While the current American situation is alluded to in several songs, Cooder also knows how to have fun with “School Is Out,” and a cover of Sam The Sham’s “Wooly Bully.”  Wrapping the set up is Leadbelly’s “Goodnight Irene.”  Throughout the set Cooder plays truly impeccable guitar.  No one knows how to blend genres better, and this is one of those albums that gets better each time you hear it.

Peter Stone Brown is a freelance writer and singer-songwriter.  His site and blog can be found here: http://www.peterstonebrown.com/

 

 

Peter Stone Brown is a freelance writer and singer-songwriter.  His site and blog can be found here: http://www.peterstonebrown.com/

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
June 24, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
A Blow for Peace and Democracy: Why the British Said No to Europe
Pepe Escobar
Goodbye to All That: Why the UK Left the EU
Michael Hudson
Revolts of the Debtors: From Socrates to Ibn Khaldun
Andrew Levine
Summer Spectaculars: Prelude to a Tea Party?
Kshama Sawant
Beyond Bernie: Still Not With Her
Mike Whitney
¡Basta Ya, Brussels! British Voters Reject EU Corporate Slavestate
Tariq Ali
Panic in the House: Brexit as Revolt Against the Political Establishment
Paul Street
Miranda, Obama, and Hamilton: an Orwellian Ménage à Trois for the Neoliberal Age
Ellen Brown
The War on Weed is Winding Down, But Will Monsanto Emerge the Winner?
Gary Leupp
Why God Created the Two-Party System
Conn Hallinan
Brexit Vote: a Very British Affair (But Spain May Rock the Continent)
Ruth Fowler
England, My England
Jeffrey St. Clair
Lines Written on the Occasion of Bernie Sanders’ Announcement of His Intention to Vote for Hillary Clinton
Norman Pollack
Fissures in World Capitalism: the British Vote
Paul Bentley
Mercenary Logic: 12 Dead in Kabul
Binoy Kampmark
Parting Is Such Sweet Joy: Brexit Prevails!
Elliot Sperber
Show Me Your Papers: Supreme Court Legalizes Arbitrary Searches
Jan Oberg
The Brexit Shock: Now It’s All Up in the Air
Nauman Sadiq
Brexit: a Victory for Britain’s Working Class
Brian Cloughley
Murder by Drone: Killing Taxi Drivers in the Name of Freedom
Ramzy Baroud
How Israel Uses Water as a Weapon of War
Brad Evans – Henry Giroux
The Violence of Forgetting
Ben Debney
Homophobia and the Conservative Victim Complex
Margaret Kimberley
The Orlando Massacre and US Foreign Policy
David Rosen
Americans Work Too Long for Too Little
Murray Dobbin
Do We Really Want a War With Russia?
Kathy Kelly
What’s at Stake
Louis Yako
I Have Nothing “Newsworthy” to Report this Week
Pete Dolack
Killing Ourselves With Technology
David Krieger
The 10 Worst Acts of the Nuclear Age
Lamont Lilly
Movement for Black Lives Yields New Targets of the State
Martha Rosenberg
A Hated Industry Fights Back
Robert Fantina
Hillary, Gloria and Jill: a Brief Look at Alternatives
Chris Doyle
No Fireworks: Bicentennial Summer and the Decline of American Ideals
Michael Doliner
Beyond Dangerous: the Politics of Climate
Colin Todhunter
Modi, Monsanto, Bayer and Cargill: Doing Business or Corporate Imperialism?
Steve Church
Brexit: a Rush for the Exits!
Matthew Koehler
Mega Corporation Gobbles Up Slightly Less-Mega Corporation; Chops Jobs to Increase Profits; Blames Enviros. Film at 11.
David Green
Rape Culture, The Hunting Ground, and Amy Goodman: a Critical Perspective
Ed Kemmick
Truckin’: Pro Driver Dispenses Wisdom, Rules of the Road
Alessandro Bianchi
“China Will React if Provoked Again: You Risk the War”: Interview with Andre Vltchek
Christy Rodgers
Biophilia as Extreme Sport
Missy Comley Beattie
At Liberty
Ron Jacobs
Is Everything Permitted?
Cesar Chelala
The Sad Truth About Messi
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail