Ry Cooder is primarily a blues musician. This album is probably the nearest he gets to a commercial offering. The album was superbly produced on a digital format, unusual in it's day and the recording is exceptional. The music on the album ranges from light gospel to straight blues. I have not tired of it yet and I'm not strictly a blues fan.
With all due respect, Mr Wayne Pernu don't know what he's saying. "Hollywood" is (kinda funky, but) painfully embarassing. The rest is excellent, and I've never noticed 'languid'. "Work out fine", "Trouble" and "I can't win" are outstanding.
I have a real soft spot for this, as it's a record I grew up with, as was his superb Jazz album, which just so happened to also be his previous release. Having collected numerous other Cooder recordings over the years, it has become ever more apparent to me that those two albums are amongst his best and most consistent. And they manage this despite being both very different from each other, and yet also having that distinct Cooder-esque vibe.
One thing they share is superb musicianship. And as a drummer, I take particular note of the percussion. Here on BTYD that task is masterfully handled by the absolutely phenomenally brilliant drummer Jim Keltner. He's definitely one of my heroes, as his playing combines subtly deployed chops - not of the grandstanding sort, but of the type that a fellow drummer or discerning listener will notice - with top notch musicality. The perfect combo! And actually, Keltner's strengths are totally suited to Cooder, as he is also a great musician, but likewise more concerned with getting the right vibe than dazzling with technique.
As ever, Cooder's eclectic choice of songs both educates and entertains - I believe I once read that his parents were musicologists - ranging from light-hearted tracks like Look At Granny Run, Run, to melancholy blues like Trouble. Amongst the brilliant band, with guys like bassist Tim Drummond, the aforementioned Keltner, and guitarist David Lindley, we are treated to a plethora of fine male vocalists, and a lone lady, the fantastic Chaka Khan. Cooder's voice isn't exactly the greatest, technically speaking, but it's full of character, and certainly up to the job.
Most of the album mines a rich vein of varied Americana, focussing here more on a bluesy, funky, R'n'B/soul vibe than is normal for Cooder, who often veers more towards rootsical folkiness. Most of Cooder's material over the years has been interpretations of music written by other people, but there's an original track on offer here, by Cooder and Drummond, called Down In Hollywood, and it's a real corker. This is simply a really terrific album: all killer, no filler, as the saying goes.
Bop 'til You Drop, like any good record, never ages. It's one of those albums that sounds as fresh and new today as it did when first released some 20 years ago. Little Sister is the ultimate pop single; Down In Hollywood has a killer bass riff and a wicked sense of humour; Don't You Mess Up A Good Thing sees Chaka Khan at her best and if you want to chill out and get sentimental, there's nothing better than I Can't Win or the instrumental I Think It's Gonna Work Out Fine. Every song is a winner, and it will be in another 20 years!