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71 of 75 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ry Cooder - A magnificent state of the nation report, 5 Sep 2011
This review is from: Pull Up Some Dust And Sit Down (Audio CD)
In the same way that Neil Young gave a vitriolic state of the nation report to America with 2006's "Living with war" we now have another veteran guitarist and giant of real music making a similar declaration. Like Young, the Californian master musician Ry Cooder doesn't like very much of what he sees at the present time whether it be greedy bankers, embezzling landlords, lamentable television, rabble rousing politicians and the prospect of young men being sent into early graves. The great news is that he wraps up all this social comment in "Pull up some dust and sit down" in some of the finest songs he has recorded in years. This album sees a return to the funky preoccupations of "Bop til you drop" with an excellent gospel base, a nice Mexican tinge and a reverential nod to the folk protest of Woody Guthrie. Throughout the musicianship is so good its almost criminal and its worth stressing that as a protest album Cooder's latest is jam packed with sly humour and repeated listens will leave you with a very broad grin.

The whole album sets out its stall with "No Banker left behind" inspired by a Robert Scheer column in the Huffington Post where Cooder arraigns these vile creatures and comments "Well the bankers called a meetin', to the Whitehouse they went one day/They was going to call on the president, in a quiet and a sociable way/The afternoon was sunny and the weather it was fine/They counted all our money and no banker was left behind". It is very funny but also very cutting, a national anthem for a new depression which could be adopted by the US and a dozen other countries, Next is the excellent Mexican flavoured "El Corrida de Jesse James" which is followed by two of the albums massive highlights. First up is the atmospheric and lovely "Dirty Chateau" a song about the trials and tribulations of Latino immigration where his haunting guitar skills are at a premium. "Humpty Dumpty World" alternatively is the song on the album where Cooder imagines the Lord looking down from heaven with despair and just about indicts the gamut of modern creation. Although special ire is reserved for politicians who are cast as "Craven minions sent from down below/occupy the highest portals of the land/as swift is their climb as sure is their decline/Straight back to hell from whence they came". Superb stuff delivered with the kind of funky panache which is Cooder's special calling card.

The most deceptive song on the album is "Christmas time this year" which on the surface sounds like a jolly Tex Mex romp but was clearly written as an anti Bush war protest song firmly in the tradition of Country Joe McDonald's "Feel Like I'm Fixing To Die Rag". These themes are powerfully reprised on the six minute deep blues tour de force "Baby joined the army" where Cooder regrets the conscription of a beloved son. In addition Cooder even manages to perform a brilliant passing impersonation of the old Crawling King Snake "John Lee Hooker for President" and in "I want my crown" produces one of the most swampy blues songs since Dylan's "Cold Irons Bound". The whole thing is rounded off by the stunningly beautiful "No hard feelings" where the ghost of Woody Guthrie is summoned in the opening line where Cooder intones "That this land should have been our land" and proves that as a emotive songwriter he has few peers.

Ultimately all leads you to question why is it that only seasoned veterans like Young, Springsteen or Cooder currently have the confidence and verve to take on the big themes and deliver works which are musically sublime but also have something important to say? As it stands "Pull up some dust and sit down" is one of Cooder's best albums period and is simply magnificent.
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Tracked by 2 customers

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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 5 Sep 2011 14:13:25 BDT
Dr. Mabuse says:
Nice review!

You mention why is it that only the 'seasoned veterans' have the confidence to challenge. That is the answer, they are big names who people will either listen to or ignore. Look what happened to the Dixie Chicks when they made their protest about 'Dubya'. Scorn and vitriol was poured on them by the good ol' American patriots. The 'veterans' have jaws of steel, the young bucks don't, sadly.

Posted on 5 Sep 2011 18:35:30 BDT
Great review - thanks - I bought the album on the strength of it!

Posted on 5 Sep 2011 18:50:41 BDT
lovely review - was going to buy it anyway, but now with greater haste

incidentally you are forgetting the great Jedward album 'Today' with its searing indictment of contemporary society and its rousing cry to the young to get silly hairdos and buy into the mind-rotting celeb b&*^%$t

In reply to an earlier post on 6 Sep 2011 17:11:09 BDT
Dr. Mabuse says:
So far 2 folk didn't find this review helpful. Jedward?!!

Posted on 9 Sep 2011 14:31:16 BDT
Adam K. says:
I've also been disappointed by the lack of engagement by songwriters I expected some sort of reaction from (Yes, Indigo Girls, I'm looking at you), but you should check out Eliza Gilkyson's work: "Highway 9", "Man of God", "Runaway Train" and, off her recent album, "Slouching Towards Bethlehem" are all sharp, witty and downright hummable political barbs.

In reply to an earlier post on 17 Sep 2011 10:18:25 BDT
[Deleted by Amazon on 4 Apr 2013 08:17:46 BDT]
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