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The Bourgeois Blues
on 20 August 2012
The dust has barely settled on Ry Cooder's acerbic last album, but he's back again spitting bile and pulling no punches in the run-up to the US presidential election, Mitt Romney and his Republicans the merciless target this time.
Given the speed of this follow-up, and its relatively short duration (9 tracks, 39 minutes) one suspects that some of this material may have been left over from last time; for example, "The Wall Street Part of Town" has already been in circulation for quite some months now.
Cooder's increasingly politicised stance may not suit all tastes, and at times he does come over a little preachy, but in strictly musical terms this is one of his best recent releases.
Production-wise it's much more stripped-down than of late; most of the usual Cooder stalwarts are absent this time. Cooder plays guitar, bass and mandolin with his usual aplomb, son Joachim plays drums and long-time Cooder loyalist Arnold McCuller contributes backing vocals to one track. The result is a sound and a feel harking back to Cooder's early-seventies work, and it's none the worse for that.
Despite the serious subject matter "Pull Up Some Dust..." contained some genuinely humorous moments, and Cooder's sense of mischief hasn't deserted him here either, witness "Mutt Romney Blues" told from the perspective of the Republican's canine. Possibly a cheap target, but it's another of those memorable dustbowl narratives that Cooder has rolled off with almost effortless ease for over forty years.
"Kool Aid" is perhaps the joker in the pack, its sinister and moody backing track drawing on Cooder's vast movie soundtrack oeuvre. Elsewhere, Cooder touches many of his familiar musical bases and whilst it's unlikely to be regarded as one of his seminal releases it's a refreshingly listenable body of work, even if history eventually judges it to be very much of its time.
If only our English party political broadcasts were half as much fun as this.