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I, Flathead [CD]

Ry Cooder Audio CD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
Price: 12.86 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Product Description

Product Description

Ry Cooder's I, Flathead, is the culmination of his ambitious and fascinating "California Trilogy", the last of three albums in which the singer and guitarist journeys through the real and imagined history of mid-20th century, multi-ethnic California, sampling the sounds of its barrios and byways, its nightclubs and honkytonks. He encounters the disenfranchised, the hopeful, the cheerfully strange and seriously nefarious, along with the occasional alien who races around in a souped-up flying saucer on the desert salt flats. On previous instalments, Chávez Ravine (2005) and My Name Is Buddy (2007), learning the facts and stories behind Cooder's songs made them even more compelling, whether it was the not-quite vanished legacy of the Chávez Ravine neighbourhood of Los Angeles, bulldozed to make way for Dodger Stadium, or the allegorical, Bound For Glory-like adventures of Buddy Red Cat in a time of commie-baiting and union-busting. This time, however, no research is necessary: Cooder, a California native, has written a remarkable 104-page novella to accompany this disc, a surreally funny page-turner of a tale about itinerant musician Kash Buk and the various characters he meets in his travels out west, all of whom get to narrate parts of the story. If you mixed John Steinbeck with, say, Thomas Pynchon, and threw in a bit of Popular Mechanics for good measure, it might read something like the I, Flathead narrative.

Packaging: 2-pocket gatefold digipak with 16-page 4-color booklet.

BBC Review

The third part of Cooder's 'California Trilogy' sees him combine the best of all his areas of expertise. It's for sure that whether you're a fan of his Americana, his guitar playing or just his fine writing that you'll be satisfied with I, Flathead.

Accompanied by a novella recounting the oddball tale of Kash Buk and his 'Klowns'. A circle of 'petrolheads': drag racers and automotive junkies who wander the salt flats of California in the early 60s. This is possibly the loosest of Cooder's 'concept' albums, despite its narrative accompaniment. This looseness also comes across in the playing and writing. Chavez Ravine was rooted in the Mexican roots of its protaganists, while My name Is Buddy Song owed more to Woody Guthrie's dustbowl tales. But here as electricity and machinery enter the picture Cooder blends his love of country, blues, rock 'n' roll and even mariachi, weaving it in with the usual blend of sociopolitical history and a BIG dollop of humour. Cooder's willingness to bring guitars back into centre stage means Steel Guitar Heaven is a total, jazzy blast while Spayed Cooley combines country swing with canine-related jokes. In keeping with the period we get odes to the cold war/red menace (Pink-o Boogie - where he FINALLY whips out the slide like we've all been waiting for since about 1990), Johnny Cash (Johnny Cash) and lots and lots of cars (Drive Like I Never Been Hurt, Little Trona Girl, Flathead One More Time, Ridin' With The Blues).

The album's more, say, existential bent is played up by Cooder's gnarly growl of a voice that suits a spoken Can I Smoke In Here down to the ground. One can imagine the dialogue set in some steel truckstop diner in the middle of the desert. And with the period chosen covering his adolescent years there's plenty of opportunity to get pretty ribald in places. Joined by old compadres like Jim Keltner and even Jon Hassell (on Flathead One More Time, another raspy delight) as well as his son Joachim on drums, this is, well, the most typically 'Cooderish' album in a long while. Ridin' With The Blues with its references to his glory days on the road with the Stones may be the loudest, raunchiest thing he's done in a long while. All in all this is a fine end piece to his trilogy, while it also seems to signal a return to the Cooder we all know and love. Here's hoping... --Chris Jones

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Product Description

(2008/NONESUCH) 14 tracks - digipacMedium 1
  1. Drive Like I Never Been Hurt
  2. Waitin' For Some Girl
  3. Johnny Cash
  4. Can I Smoke In Here?
  5. Steel Guitar Heaven
  6. Ridin' With The Blues
  7. Pink-O Boogie
  8. Fernando Sez
  9. Spayed Kooley
  10. Filipino Dancehall Girl
  11. My Dwarf Is Getting Tired
  12. Flathead One More Time
  13. 5000 Country Music Songs
  14. Little Trona Girl
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