Ry Cooder - Paradise and Lunch
If you were to cut Ry Cooder in half he would be lettered 'Musician' all the way through. He hardly seems to have made anything except excellent albums, apart from 'The Slide Area'. So here is another eclectic mix of blues, gospel, folk and interpretations of obscure old pop songs. All played by his early house band, with a few distinguished guests, so nothing new there. But some albums just work, and all I can suggest is that when you get the right people together at the right time the magic just happens, and it really happens here. I think the secret is in knowing what to leave out. This sort of music doesn't smack you on the forehead, it just sidles up and makes friends. The rythms are generally gentle and subtle, but still make you want first to tap your feet and then dance around the room. This mood is set in the first track, 'Tamp 'em up solid', but this is no surprize, Cooder has always been at expert at first tracks (Such as 6-3-4-5-7-8-9 and Get Rythm). 'Jesus on the main line' is one of those left field tunes that just get to you after a couple of playings, and 'Fool for a cigarette' has that depression / dust bowl feel so well done on the 2nd album (Into the Purple Valley). The guitar licks are immaculate as ever, electric accoustic and slide, but the point is not how clever they are, but how well played they are. No-one can play as sweetly or with more emotion than Ryland Peter Cooder. The final track is a duet between Cooder and the veteran jazz pianist Earl Hines. They play the Blind Blake standard 'Ditty wah ditty' with real swing. Cooder keeps the melody and rythm driving along whilst Hines plays some astonishing variations. I'm still not sure if it works, but I can't stop humming the tune. All in all this is an addictive album, one of those I get every 3 or 4 years that I play almost non-stop . Five stars are hardly adequate. I have a reservation about the design of the cover, one of the worst I have ever seen, especially with a hangover, but it does make the album easy to spot on the rack. I just can't think why I didn't buy the album before.