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Not one of Ry Cooder's best
on 14 September 2013
Ry Cooder fans like me will want this in their collections, but it's not one of his best albums by any means. There are some great moments, but also some rather weaker stuff and the live sound isn't great.
Good bits first: there are cracking versions of Vigilante Man and Crazy 'Bout An Automobile and there is, of course, some really fine guitar work in plenty of other places. The opening of Volver Volver is wonderful, for example...but the rest of it really isn't up to much, including some pretty dodgy tuning in Juliette Commagere's vocals. And that rather sums up the album for me - great in places but pretty ordinary overall.
Part of the problem is the sound, which is woolly, boomy and indistinct a good deal of the time. There is also a lot of intrusive audience noise, including a lot of that whooping in completely inappropriate places which is all about drawing attention to the whooper and nothing to do with appreciation of the music. It really needed to be mixed down because for me it spoils quite a lot of the quieter bits. (And what is it about Goodnight Irene? It's a pretty dull song and first Eric Clapton and now Ry Cooder have released...well...dull recordings of it. It's a mystery to me.)
I've loved Ry Cooder's music since I discovered Bop Till You Drop in 1979 (better late than never) and I'll certainly listen to anything by him, but I can't see me playing this very often. I suspect I'd have loved it if I'd been there, but as a record I can only give it a lukewarm recommendation.