Top critical review
24 people found this helpful
on 5 June 2004
The rediscovery of a rich indigenous American musical history didn't begin with O Brother Where Art Thou, though it gave a timely boost to an undervalued genre. Somehow the blues and folk archives of Alan Lomax and Harry Smith, and music handed down through families over generations and kept alive, needed to be woven into a whole that was both true to a tradition and yet contemporary. Among the honourable few who attempted such a synthesis were the Band, Neil Young and Ry Cooder.
Ry Cooder toured his Chicken Skin Music band after making this album and if you saw it you probably will remember a Whistle Test concert for UK television in 1977. Ry Cooder had assembled an extraordinary orchestra, uniquely combining the Tex-Mex accordion mastery of Flaco Jiminez with the Hawaiian slack key guitar maestros Gabby Pahinui and Atta Isaacs to perform traditional minstrel and gospel songs, soul ballads, Leadbelly and Ray Charles covers and standards such as the wonderful He'll Have To Go, and Chloe.
The result is a skilful blend that is not dry or academic but designed for dance and entertainment