Any release by Ry Cooder is a cause for celebration and since his live releases have been pretty thin on the ground (well, legitimate ones anyway), this one has been eagerly awaited.
Thirty six years on from his last authorised live album "Showtime" it's a shame, given the immense catalogue that he had to choose from, that three of the songs from that record are duplicated this time around, "School Is Out" a particularly surprising choice.
Most satisfying is Cooder's lengthy, stripped-down revisiting of "Vigilante Man", where freed from the shackles of the large supporting ensemble he gets down to what he does best with some very tasty guitar work. "Crazy 'Bout An Automobile" is another standard that Cooder has long since made his own and there's nothing wrong with it here, although the definitive version of that tune is to be found in the all-too-rarely aired 1987 concert film of Ry Cooder and The Moula Banda Rhythm Aces in Santa Cruz, which is positively unhinged. (By the way, when is someone finally going to release an authorised high quality CD or DVD of that magnificent show?)
Juliette Commagere, whose seductive vocals have illuminated much of Cooder's recent work, delivers a disappointingly mechanical and soulless rendition of another Cooder perennial "Volver Volver" whilst "Goodnight Irene" is similarly lifeless. Give me Tom Waits' version any day.
Otherwise, it's the older material that fares best with "Do Re Mi" and "Boomer's Story" the pick of the bunch.
School is out. End of term report: "Good, but could have done better."