on 27 July 2013
Actually, my title is a little unfair. I don't think Ry Cooder has ever not been in his prime. His most recent releases are in my humble opinion just as much a celebration of taste and virtuosity as his earliest eponymous album.
Although his catalogue of releases has included 'Showtime' which was a live release there has been very little available of his concerts other than via the bootleggers. Indeed, I'm not sure this is not from a previous bootleg which I purchased nearly 20 years ago. However, this is better packaged and without the timing 'pips' which meant that it was from a radio recording of some kind.
Anyway, back to the music. Yes, perhaps there could be a slightly better fidelity in the soundstage but you'll quickly find that is entirely made transparent by the sheer beauty of Cooder's delivery. A great part of this album is actually an acoustic set with one or two other musicians or backing singers. Every performance is worthy of note but my favourites have to be 'One Meatball', if only because Cooder has been entirely responsible for keeping alive this wonderful piece of Americana (for which he should receive some kind of Congressional medal, imho) and 'Fool for a cigarette' which just keeps you engaged from start to finish. "Let Your Light Shine On Me" is a tribute I suspect to the Bahamian musician Joseph Spence - it is certainly delivered in that style.
If you are an audiophile and you pass on this album then you are an audiophilistine because as far as performances go it does not get better than this. Cooder demonstrates that he has to be taken seriously as one of the world's leading guitarists.
on 11 October 2013
Initially I was a little disappointed with the recording. On several more listenings I took less notice of the recording and became overwhelmed with the brilliant musicianship and playing on this cd. I have a number of Cooder CD's, but I felt there was a beautiful uniqueness about the style of playing. Exceptional, an amazing uncomercial feel about it. I even became more forgiving about the recording, it wasn't as disappointing as I thought.
on 26 September 2013
If Cooder's 1977 'Showtime' had been a double-album, this would have been the second disc. With pretty much the same line-up - including Flaco Jimenez, Terry Evans and Bobby King (vocals) - and from the same Cooder era, this album is every bit as good as its predecessor.
The set list: Stand By Me, Tattler, Dark End Of The Street, One Meat Ball, Fool For A Cigarette, Tamp 'em Up Solid, Let Your Light Shine On Me, Viva Sequin/Do Re Mi, Goodnight Irene and Volver Volver.
The playing is excellent - Dark End Of The Street is a virtuouso extended electric slide solo; One Meat Ball, Fool... and Tamp 'em Up showcase Ry's acoustic guitar. The only dodgy note perhaps is the sax work on Volver Volver.
The sound quality is full and clear; the mix is right - albeit it close to mono (hence 4 stars, rather than 5) - and the audience applause is mixed down.
The packaging is a tri-fold Digipack with some good photos (of the gig?) and a decent essay by one William Hogeland (no idea).
Bottom line: worth the money? worth having? For Cooder fans, I think SO!
on 26 June 2014
I've been a Ry Cooder fan for 40-odd years and seen him live a number of times, but somehow missed out on the existence of this excellent live performance, and the equally-good 'Live on Air/Live at the Plant' (same album- beware!). Flaco Jimenez' name appears on the front cover, and with good reason- his accordion playing is almost as much a feature as Ry's guitar. I love that but if you find it a bit cheesey, look to the other live recordings instead.
on 31 March 2015
An album released recently, during a tour in 1977 that also resulted in the excellent live album "Show Time". The show is indeed similar, with Flaco Jimenez on fire. The album "Show Time" has the edge, and the soundscape works better there, but for a Ry Cooder fan this is still very good - any chance of hearing these songs are worth the dollar.