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Taj Mahal & Ry Cooder

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Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder have both made careers out of covering classic tunes from the canons of early blues, gospel, jazz, country, and soul music. As septuagenarians they can fall into these modes by instinct alone.  Here these two living encyclopedias of American music (and former bandmates in the Rising Sons, a short-lived Los Angeles blues rock band circa 1965) have recorded a loose and fun jam session, revisiting classics from the catalogs of Reverend Gary Davis and the epic blues partnership of Brownie McGhee & Sonny Terry. Rather than straight covers though, Cooder and Mahal—in the studio together for the first time since 1968—put their decades of experience to work, with both singing on most tunes and adding spontaneous drums and percussion from Cooder's son, Joachim, throughout. Although this is a mostly acoustic guitar and voice affair, Ry Cooder adds electric guitar parts to several tunes including the opener "My Baby Done Changed the Lock on the Door" and an oddly reverberant and round-toned, "Packing Up Getting Ready To Go." Recorded by Martin Pradler at Temple of Leaves in Altadena, CA. and Wireland in Chatsworth, CA, the only flaw in this project is that is was recorded as Mahal says, "old school" in less-than-ideal conditions "in the front parlor of a fine n' vintage welcoming old home!" This results in a recording quality which is often distant and unbalanced. The McGhee/Terry classic, "Pick a Bale of Cotton" ("jump down, turn around, pick a bale of cotton") gets a snappy, gently rocking' take while "Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee" (written by McGhee's brother, Stick) with Cooder on slide guitar and Mahal singing and playing harmonica gets appropriately funky and low down. Mahal does his best barrelhouse piano imitation on "Deep Sea Diver." This set's best-known tune, "The Midnight Special" gets a group singalong led by Mahal's harmonica. The closer, Mississippi John Hurt's "I Shall Not Be Moved" is a just-right finale to an easygoing set where ambition is sidelined in favor of heartfelt results. It's all what Mahal calls "Big! Big! Big fun … loose 'n' tight, crazy 'bout the/that rhythm, 'cause it's ragged but right!" An album cover design reminiscent of original bare bones blues albums of the late '50s/early '60s completes this salute to disappearing but still vital American roots music. © Robert Baird/Qobuz

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1
My Baby Done Changed the Lock on the Door
00:04:15

Ry Cooder, Producer, Arranger, Guitar, Vocals, MainArtist - Taj Mahal, Vocals, Harmonica, MainArtist - JOACHIM COODER, Drums, Bass - Martin Pradler, Mixer, Editor, Engineer, Masterer - William Weldon, Writer - Henry St. Claire Fredericks, Arranger

© 2022 Perro Verde Records LLC, under exclusive license to Nonesuch Records Inc. ℗ 2022 Perro Verde Records LLC, under exclusive license to Nonesuch Records

2
The Midnight Special
00:03:26

Ry Cooder, Producer, Guitar, Vocals, MainArtist - Taj Mahal, Vocals, Harmonica, MainArtist - JOACHIM COODER, Drums, Bass - Sonny Terry, Writer - Martin Pradler, Mixer, Editor, Engineer, Masterer - Brownie McGhee, Writer

© 2022 Perro Verde Records LLC, under exclusive license to Nonesuch Records Inc. ℗ 2022 Perro Verde Records LLC, under exclusive license to Nonesuch Records

3
Hooray Hooray
00:04:19

Leroy Kirkland, Writer - Ry Cooder, Producer, Guitar, Vocals, MainArtist - Taj Mahal, Vocals, Harmonica, MainArtist - JOACHIM COODER, Drums, Bass - Sonny Terry, Writer - Martin Pradler, Mixer, Editor, Engineer, Masterer

© 2022 Perro Verde Records LLC, under exclusive license to Nonesuch Records Inc. ℗ 2022 Perro Verde Records LLC, under exclusive license to Nonesuch Records

4
Deep Sea Diver
00:05:17

Ry Cooder, Producer, Guitar, Vocals, MainArtist - Taj Mahal, Piano, MainArtist - JOACHIM COODER, Drums, Bass - Martin Pradler, Mixer, Editor, Engineer, Masterer - Brownie McGhee, Writer

© 2022 Perro Verde Records LLC, under exclusive license to Nonesuch Records Inc. ℗ 2022 Perro Verde Records LLC, under exclusive license to Nonesuch Records

5
Pick a Bale of Cotton
00:03:02

Ry Cooder, Producer, Guitar, Vocals, MainArtist - Taj Mahal, Vocals, Harmonica, MainArtist - JOACHIM COODER, Drums, Bass - Sonny Terry, Writer - Martin Pradler, Mixer, Editor, Engineer, Masterer - Brownie McGhee, Writer

© 2022 Perro Verde Records LLC, under exclusive license to Nonesuch Records Inc. ℗ 2022 Perro Verde Records LLC, under exclusive license to Nonesuch Records

6
Drinkin’ Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee
00:03:15

Granville McGhee, Writer - Ry Cooder, Producer, Guitar, Mandolin, Vocals, MainArtist - Taj Mahal, Vocals, Harmonica, MainArtist - JOACHIM COODER, Drums, Bass - Martin Pradler, Mixer, Editor, Engineer, Masterer - J. Mayo Williams, Writer

© 2022 Perro Verde Records LLC, under exclusive license to Nonesuch Records Inc. ℗ 2022 Perro Verde Records LLC, under exclusive license to Nonesuch Records

7
What a Beautiful City
00:04:11

Ry Cooder, Producer, Arranger, Guitar, Vocals, MainArtist - Traditional, Writer - Taj Mahal, Vocals, Harmonica, MainArtist - JOACHIM COODER, Drums, Bass - Martin Pradler, Mixer, Editor, Engineer, Masterer - Henry St. Claire Fredericks, Arranger

© 2022 Perro Verde Records LLC, under exclusive license to Nonesuch Records Inc. ℗ 2022 Perro Verde Records LLC, under exclusive license to Nonesuch Records

8
Pawn Shop Blues
00:05:51

Ry Cooder, Producer, Guitar, Vocals, MainArtist - Taj Mahal, Guitar, Harmonica, MainArtist - Martin Pradler, Mixer, Editor, Engineer, Masterer - Taj Mahall, Vocals - Blind Boy Fuller, Writer

© 2022 Perro Verde Records LLC, under exclusive license to Nonesuch Records Inc. ℗ 2022 Perro Verde Records LLC, under exclusive license to Nonesuch Records

9
Cornbread, Peas, Black Molasses
00:03:43

Ry Cooder, Producer, Guitar, Vocals, MainArtist - Taj Mahal, Vocals, Harmonica, MainArtist - JOACHIM COODER, Drums, Bass - Sonny Terry, Writer - Martin Pradler, Mixer, Editor, Engineer, Masterer - Brownie McGhee, Writer

© 2022 Perro Verde Records LLC, under exclusive license to Nonesuch Records Inc. ℗ 2022 Perro Verde Records LLC, under exclusive license to Nonesuch Records

10
Packing Up Getting Ready to Go
00:02:49

Corey Williams, Background Vocals - Ry Cooder, Lyricist, Producer, Arranger, Banjo, Guitar, Vocals, Music, MainArtist - Taj Mahal, Harmonica, MainArtist - JOACHIM COODER, Lyricist, Drums, Music, Bass - Tradional, Writer - Martin Pradler, Mixer, Editor, Engineer, Masterer - Antonio Bowers, Background Vocals - Laphelle Taylor, VocalEngineer - Henry St. Claire Fredericks, Lyricist, Music - James Tillman Jr., Background Vocals

© 2022 Perro Verde Records LLC, under exclusive license to Nonesuch Records Inc. ℗ 2022 Perro Verde Records LLC, under exclusive license to Nonesuch Records

11
I Shall Not Be Moved
00:04:19

Ry Cooder, Producer, Arranger, Guitar, Vocals, MainArtist - Traditional, Writer - Taj Mahal, Vocals, Harmonica, MainArtist - JOACHIM COODER, Drums, Bass - Martin Pradler, Mixer, Editor, Engineer, Masterer - Henry St. Claire Fredericks, Arranger

© 2022 Perro Verde Records LLC, under exclusive license to Nonesuch Records Inc. ℗ 2022 Perro Verde Records LLC, under exclusive license to Nonesuch Records

Album Description

Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder have both made careers out of covering classic tunes from the canons of early blues, gospel, jazz, country, and soul music. As septuagenarians they can fall into these modes by instinct alone.  Here these two living encyclopedias of American music (and former bandmates in the Rising Sons, a short-lived Los Angeles blues rock band circa 1965) have recorded a loose and fun jam session, revisiting classics from the catalogs of Reverend Gary Davis and the epic blues partnership of Brownie McGhee & Sonny Terry. Rather than straight covers though, Cooder and Mahal—in the studio together for the first time since 1968—put their decades of experience to work, with both singing on most tunes and adding spontaneous drums and percussion from Cooder's son, Joachim, throughout. Although this is a mostly acoustic guitar and voice affair, Ry Cooder adds electric guitar parts to several tunes including the opener "My Baby Done Changed the Lock on the Door" and an oddly reverberant and round-toned, "Packing Up Getting Ready To Go." Recorded by Martin Pradler at Temple of Leaves in Altadena, CA. and Wireland in Chatsworth, CA, the only flaw in this project is that is was recorded as Mahal says, "old school" in less-than-ideal conditions "in the front parlor of a fine n' vintage welcoming old home!" This results in a recording quality which is often distant and unbalanced. The McGhee/Terry classic, "Pick a Bale of Cotton" ("jump down, turn around, pick a bale of cotton") gets a snappy, gently rocking' take while "Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee" (written by McGhee's brother, Stick) with Cooder on slide guitar and Mahal singing and playing harmonica gets appropriately funky and low down. Mahal does his best barrelhouse piano imitation on "Deep Sea Diver." This set's best-known tune, "The Midnight Special" gets a group singalong led by Mahal's harmonica. The closer, Mississippi John Hurt's "I Shall Not Be Moved" is a just-right finale to an easygoing set where ambition is sidelined in favor of heartfelt results. It's all what Mahal calls "Big! Big! Big fun … loose 'n' tight, crazy 'bout the/that rhythm, 'cause it's ragged but right!" An album cover design reminiscent of original bare bones blues albums of the late '50s/early '60s completes this salute to disappearing but still vital American roots music. © Robert Baird/Qobuz

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