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£13.99

Pop - Released August 17, 2012 | Nonesuch

Booklet
The risk in writing political songs, especially about specific issues and historical periods, is that over time, those that are run of the mill become dated. Not everyone can write timeless tunes like Woody Guthrie, Sam Cooke, John Lennon, and Bob Marley. Given the content of Election Special, Ry Cooder knew the risks going in and welcomed them. Using American traditional musics -- raw blues, folk, and roots rock -- Cooder's songs express what he considers to be, as both an artist and a pissed-off citizen, the high-stakes historical gamble of the 2012 presidential and congressional contest. He wrote and recorded this album as a witness to the era. Other than drums (played by his son Joachim) and some backing vocals, Cooder plays everything here. He uses foreboding acoustic blues in "Mutt Romney Blues" (written from the point of view of the candidate Mitt Romney's dog). The more poignant "Brother Is Gone" is at first blush a seemingly heart-wrenching folk tale fueled by Cooder's mandolin. Yet it slowly and purposely relates a deal-with-the-devil fantasy about conservatives Charles and David Koch. It's among the finest songs he's written. But Cooder rocks up his anger too: "Guantanamo" is a raucous barroom strut. "Cold Cold Feeling" is a deep, slow garage blues that's chilling in its effectiveness. His screed is a link in a chain of political blues tunes that date back to the Delta. "Going to Tampa" is a cut-time string band country tune. It's a farce about the 2012 Republican National Convention as hijacked by the Tea Party. He accuses both of outright racism and social engineering, with scathing humor. The album's finest cut is the dark, Delta-style electric blues of "Kool-Aid," which recalls Junior Kimbrough musically. Guthrie's own spirit is evoked in the antiwar narrative "The 90 and the 9," with its singalong choruses. Election Special closes with a scorching, rocking blues entitled "Take Your Hands Off It." It's a militant anthem that demands that the Constitution and Bill of Rights be returned to their rightful place at the heart of mainstream American life. Sure enough, because of its soapbox style, Election Special is the most overtly political album of Cooder's career. As such, it serves two purposes: one is that it is the most organic record he's issued in almost two decades; and, more importantly, it restores topical protest music to a bona fide place in American cultural life. ~ Thom Jurek
£7.99

Rock - Released May 20, 2015 | 2015 Autarc Media GmbH, CH.

£10.99

Rock - Released January 1, 1970 | Warner Bros.

"The Musician's Musician." "The Master of the Eclectic." There are probably a dozen more titles by which this "guitar player" is known. To even refer to him as a guitar player is probably a gross mislabeling of this musician. He defies any sort of categorization; this is his greatest strength and for some his weakness. The theme for these nine cuts is rhythm of all different ilk. I won't even give the parameters because he seems to have none. I wondered how many different instruments he played on this album (I thought I counted five different types of guitar); it only says guitar and vocal for his credits. Listen to his version of "All Shook Up," more bop and rhythm than Elvis could put into four of his songs. It seems musicians line up to play with him, and they feel he did them a favor by letting them play on his albums. He always gives them plenty of space to do what they do. This CD will make the dead start tapping their toes. ~ Bob Gottlieb
£11.99

Rock - Released January 1, 1970 | Rhino

This CD opens with an outrageous and exceedingly funky "UFO Has Landed in the Ghetto," and which seems so out of place with the other material. Yes, it is a rhythm & blues, bordering at times on funk album, and rap is one direction R&B took, but.... Listen to the groove on "Which Came First," and try to keep your body from bobbing to the strong rhythm laid down by Jim Keltner, Tim Drummond, and the background vocalists. While we are on the subject of vocals, this is one of Ry Cooder's best efforts, and his backup vocalists are key here and deserve special recognition: Bobby King, John Hiatt, Willie Greene, and Herman Johnson for most of the CD. The two gems on this are the phenomenal treatments of both "Blue Suede Shoes" and Bob Dylan's "I Need a Woman." Two songs as different in the original forms as pigs and gerbils are converted to R&B hit status. Both contain some memorable slide guitar work, but isn't that what we expect from this master of the guitar family. The album is very good but those two songs make it a gem. ~ Bob Gottlieb
£7.99

Pop - Released June 6, 2016 | iOcean Music

£11.99

Rock - Released October 24, 2008 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

£7.99

Rock - Released October 24, 2008 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

Following the odd, but entertaining Hawaiian, southwestern mix of Chicken Skin Music, Ry Cooder hit the road with a group of Tex-Mex musicians led by the great accordionist Flaco Jiminez. To make things even more interesting, he also included three soul- and gospel-based backup singers in the lineup (two of whom had appeared on Chicken Skin Music). Recorded in December of 1976, over a span of two nights in San Francisco, Show Time documents these shows by Cooder and his "Chicken Skin Revue." And while Cooder's guitar -- along with his usual eclectic assortment of songs -- is the star of the show, each of the principles has his chance to shine throughout the evening. Terry Evans, Bobby King, and Eldridge King's soulful rendition of "The Dark End of the Street," as well as the lovely "Volver, Volver," which features Jiminez, are a couple of the highlights. Cooder's selection of material here is as eclectic as ever, but Jiminez and the band stay with him every step of the way. They seem equally at home with the R&B of "Smack Dab in the Middle" as they do with the Jiminez instrumental "Viva Seguin," which leads into a Tex-Mex reworking of Woody Guthrie's "Do Re Mi." Still, as good as the fit may be between leader and band, it's the Negro spiritual, "Jesus on the Mainline," stripped down to just four voices and Cooder's remarkable bottleneck, that's the real showstopper here. Cooder is not usually one to stray too far outside the confines of the song on record, but in this setting he gets a chance to really stretch. Like most live recordings, Show Time isn't necessarily essential, though there's enough to make it worthwhile for fans. Also, included is a terrific Dixieland take on Gary "U.S." Bonds' "School Is Out" recorded with the same band in the studio. ~ Brett Hartenbach
£11.99

Film Soundtracks - Released May 2, 1986 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

£4.79

Blues - Released October 14, 2016 | Heaven And Earth Music