For someone who has been making music for over 40 years it's very hard to encapsulate their career into even two CDs as we have here. This compilation was put together by Ry and his son Joachim and contains a good selection of Ry's solo records from his 1970 eponymous debut to 2008's "I, Flathead" and also his film soundtracks. It also contains one unreleased track the old Wilbert Harrison number "Let's work together" featuring Ry playing with accordionist Buckwheat Zydeco.
The two CDs present a good variety across his work from the acoustic worksong "Tamp 'Em Up Solid" to the electric R&B of "The Very Thing That Makes You Rich (Makes Me Poor)" to the evocative soundtrack instrumental "Paris, Texas". Inevitably with a record like this there are some missing tracks which you wish had been included (although my all time favourite Cooder track "Teardrops Will Fall" made the cut) but overall this is a very good overview of his entire career and will allow people to sample and then buy the individual albums if they like particular sounds/styles.
So why haven't I given it five stars? Well I would have preferred less of the soundtrack themes - which did get their own compilation in 'Music by Ry Cooder' - and 12 of these tracks appeared on the 90s compilation 'River Rescue'. I would also have liked a few more obscure tracks, Ry's session work and collaborations with other artists, but perhaps I'm being a bit picky. Overall this is an excellent sampler of a wonderful artist who has produced marvellous music throughout his career.
on 17 November 2008
Ry Cooder is one of the most wonderful guitarists on the planet.Anyone looking to play guitar should listen to him,because when it comes to tone,to texture and beautiful playing he's among the very best there is.The rave over Stevie Ray's,Hendrix,et all as great as they are no question of that RC is a master of his art.This anthology has a wonderful range of varying styles from a whole range of his albums right upto his 2008 release I Flathead,and it's all fabulous stuff,no fillers here at all.listen to the texture in his film scores like Paris Texas,or his take on Johnny Cash's Get Rhythm to the wonderful unreleased track Let's Get Together.You get 34 tracks for your money,all put together by his son Joachim,plus notes by the man himself.This is surely among the best releases of the year,certainly the best anthology.You've no Ry Cooder ? then this is one truly great place to begin.TOTALLY FABULOUS SET.
on 29 January 2009
Everyone has their own perfect, and lengthy, Ry Cooder compilation. This one, drawn up by his son, misses out some must-have classics - there's no space, for example, for the sublime "Everything's gonna turn out fine" from "Bop till you drop" - and it has a rather instrumental bias with quite a preponderance of film music. But as a taster to the great man's genius it successfully sends you back to the delights of the maestro's early back catalogue and lures you on to the more recent eclectic delights of "I Flathead" and "Buddy". Worth buying too, for diehards, for the previously unreleased "Let's Work Together". It would be good if someone followed it up with "Records with Ry on them": Taj Mahal, Emmylou Harris...
I wanted to point out something about this 2CD retro that many seem to be ignoring - or not mentioning at all - the TRULY STUNNING SOUND QUALITY.
Fans of the wonderful Ry Cooder will know that apart from an occasional CD here and there and an 8-album campaign in Japan in 2007 - there have been NO remasters of his huge catalogue anywhere. Nearly 40 years of recording and no decent reissues to speak of (Tom Waits and Prince are 2 others that jump to mind on that front). The Japanese versions are just that - Japan only - and are costly as imports. There is the “Ry Cooder 1970-1987” 11CD Box Set too from November 2014 (which I’ve reviewed) but not everything on that is remastered either.
Which brings me to Rhino/Warner Brothers 8122-79891-9 (Barcode 081227989194) released November 2008. “The Ry Cooder Anthology: The UFO Has Landed” by RY COODER is a superlative 34-track 2CD reissue that covers his entire Warner Brothers and Reprise career - as well as his soundtrack work in the last 3 decades. It plays outs as follows:
Disc 1 (63:58 minutes):
1. Get Rhythm
2. Low Commotion
3. Available Space
4. On A Monday
5. Do Re MI
6. Which Came First
7. The Very Thing That Makes You Rich [Makes Me Poor]
8. Down In Hollywood
9. Smells Like Money
10. Let's Work Together
11. I Got Mine
12. Cherry Ball Blues
13. Jesus On The Mainline
15. Teardrops Will Fall
16. Maria Elena
17. Jesse James
Tracks 3 and 5 from "Ry Cooder" (October 1970)
Tracks 4 and 15 from "Into The Purple Valley" (February 1972)
Tracks 12 and 16 from "Boomer's Story" (November 1972)
Tracks 13 and 14 from "Paradise And Lunch" (April 1974)
Track 11 from "Chicken Skin Music" (August 1976)
Tracks 7 and 8 from "Bop Till You Drop" (July 1979)
Track 17 from "The Long Riders O.S.T." (April 1980)
Track 6 from "The Slide Area" (April 1982)
Tracks 1 and 2 from "Get Rhythm" (November 1987)
Track 9 from "Johnny Handsome O.S.T." (October 1989)
Disc 2 (70:41 minutes):
1. Paris, Texas
2. Theme From Southern Comfort
3. Tap 'Em Up Solid
4. Billy The Kid
5. Crazy 'Bout An Automobile (Every Woman I Know)
6. Drive Like I've Never Been Hurt
7. Feelin' Bad Blues
8. Boomer's Story
9. How Can You Keep Moving (Unless You Migrate Too)
11. Always Life Him Up/Kanaka Wai Wai
12. Theme From Alamo Bay
13. Dark End Of The Street
14. Why Don't You Try Me
15. Poor Man's Shangri-La
16. Going Back To Okinawa
17. Little Sister
Track 2 from "Ry Cooder" (October 1970)
Tracks 4 and 9 from "Into The Purple Valley" (February 1972)
Tracks 8 and 13 from "Boomer's Story" (November 1972)
Track 3 from "Paradise And Lunch" (April 1974)
Track 11 from "Chicken Skin Music" (August 1976)
Track 17 from "Bop Till You Drop" (July 1979)
Tracks 5 and 14 from "Borderline" (October 1980)
Track 1 from "Paris, Texas O.S.T." (February 1985)
Track 12 from "Music From Alamo Bay O.S.T." (August 1985)
Track 7 from "Crossroads O.S.T." (July 1986)
Track 16 from "Get Rhythm" (November 1987)
Track 2 from "Southern Comfort" (first issued on "Music From Ry Cooder" 2CD set August 1985)
Track 15 is from "Chavez Ravine" (June 2008)
Track 6 from "I Flathead" (June 2008)
Track 10 is Previously Unreleased
The award-winning sound engineer BERNIE GRUNDMAN has mastered "The UFO Has Landed" from the original tapes and he's done a beautiful job - especially given the differing recording dates (the Seventies stuff in particular sounds incredible). The 2nd point is the alignment of the songs themselves; chosen by Ry and his son, they're not in release date order, but as you can see from the track lists above mixed up so that one decade seamlessly flows into the next and back again. A nice idea - but in reality hard to get right - and they have. As a listen it really works. It opens with 1987's "Get Rhythm", then tracks from "Ry Cooder" from 1970 - skip to 1979's "Bop Till You Drop" - skips back to 1974's "Paradise And Lunch" on to 1985's "Paris, Texas" and so on. It gives the play list a fresh feel - and as the remaster quality hammers you, it's like hearing his material anew.
Speaking of sound quality - there's one particular example on here I'd recommend. Many fans will know that 1972's "Boomer Story" is one of those album gems few know anything about - but should. It's a criminally forgotten beauty and luckily its featured on here with 4 tracks - "Cherry Ball Blues", "Boomer's Story", the cover of the James Carr hit "Dark End Of The Street" and the truly beautiful instrumental "Maria Elena". If you've never heard this gorgeous Mexican-style soulful instrumental (sounding like it was recorded in 2006 and not 1972), then go to iTunes and download it for 80p - fabulous stuff.
The DDD recording of "Bop Till You Drop" has always been somehow dull and subdued on CD - but here at least it has more subtle muscle - even if you have to crank "The Very Thing That Makes You Rich (Makes Me Poor)" a little too much (lyrics above). There's also that terrible hiss on "Paris, Texas" - but the remaster has also accentuated just how brilliantly menacing the slide guitar work is - it's all 'feel'... very, very cool. Another lovely track is the theme to "Alamo Bay" and the huge slide sound on "Feelin' Bad Blues" from the 1986 "Crossroads" soundtrack. And on it goes...
Niggles - they've called it after the quirky "UFO Has Landed In The Ghetto" track from 1982's "The Slide Area" and haven't included the track, there's soundtrack stuff aplenty on here when there was the much-praised "Music From Ry Cooder" double CD compilation of 1995 for that - and the liner notes in the 40-page booklet by Ry on each track are often short, cryptic and generally useless. Worse - as you can see from the rather lax playing times on both discs above - there was room for plenty more. We could have had goodies like "All Shook Up", "Teardrops Will Fall", "Ditty Wah Ditty", "Fool For A Cigarette/Feelin' Good" and "I Think It's Going To Work Out Fine". The previously unreleased cover of Wilbert Harrison's "Let's Work Together" is good rather than great.
Having said all of that - I've played this double to death - it's brilliant in so many ways. And every time I feature "Maria Elena" in the shop shuffle it brings a customer to the counter asking after it. They know its Ry Cooder - they just don't know which track it is. I can see it in their faces - making a mental note - forgot how much I loved this guy - I must buy this. You should too.
Recommended like a shoeshine boy getting’ some badly needed rhythm...
on 1 March 2012
THIS IMPRESSIVE MULTI-LABEL SPANNING 2008 RELEASE BEARS AN ODD TITLE. It derives from the song 'UFO Has Landed In The Ghetto' from Cooder's 1982 LP The Slide Area. Yet that particular track does not feature here.
THE UFO HAS LANDED HAS MANAGED TO CONDENSE A LARGE OUTPUT - RUNNING FROM 1970'S RY COODER TO 2008'S 'I, FLATHEAD - PRETTY EFFECTIVELY. The compiler - Cooder's son Joachim - has been pretty democratic in his selection: no single album or era is afforded preferment, and he mixes and matches instrumentals with vocal pieces seamlessly. However, there are always points of contention over omissions and inclusions with limited compilations such as this one. Personally, I would like to have seen the affecting, low-key instrumental take on the R&B number 'Think It's Going To Work Out Fine' included.
THE RANGE OF COODER'S LANGUID MUSIC IS VIVIDLY ILLUSTRATED HERE. There are evocative instrumentals like 'Dark End Of The Street', electric R&B such as Cooder's take on Elvis Presley's early 1960s hit 'Little Sister', and acoustic material such as the traditional 'Tamp 'Em Up Solid'.
RY COODER IS SHOWN TO BE AS ACCOMPLISHED IN HIS SOUNDTRACK WORK AS HE IS WITH HIS STUDIO ALBUMS. Cooder had already worked on the movies Candy and Performance prior to the creation of his debut solo album. Some of the best sections from his many film scores can be found here such as the slow-paced twang of 'Paris, Texas', the slide guitar-driven 'Theme From Southern Comfort', and the moody 'Theme From Alamo Bay'.
THE PRESENTATION (AND ARTWORK) TO THIS 2CD ANTHOLOGY IS NOT OF THE HIGHEST QUALITY. This is a fault of many of Cooder's solo works. See, for instance, the gaudy cover of Paradise and Lunch, or the bland portrait that adorns Bop Till You Drop. And the track-by-track liner notes in the accompanying booklet - that are penned by the man himself - are inane. (Of 'Boomer's Story', he merely writes: "There's a man down by the railroad tracks who says he'll gladly trade his story for a ham sandwich").
THERE IS LITTLE NEW HERE TO INTEREST THE MORE FANATICAL OF COODER'S FANS. There is only one unreleased track on this non-chronological anthology, which is a competent rendering of Wilbert Harrison's 'Let's Work Together'.
THERE IS SCOPE FOR EXPANSION BEYOND ITS 34 TRACKS. Most précis of Cooder's career flag up certain key points. He is something of a musical polymath. He is a virtuosic guitar player, limited singer, occasional songwriter and producer. He can play in a variety of musical styles including blues, calypso, folk, gospel, rock and Tex-Mex. He has undertaken collaborative studio work with the likes of Taj Mahal, Rolling Stones, Captain Beefheart and Eric Clapton. It would be interesting to hear some of these pieces appended to this 2-and-a-quarter hour production to provide an even more rounded picture of this talented man's musical career.
on 11 February 2009
This double CD anthology is excellent: it enhances the compilations Why Don't You try Me Tonight and Music By Ry Cooder.
It also showcases how wonderfully consistent Ry has been. It also provides you with a great series of reference points: Get Rhythm is soul crossed with rockabilly. On A Monday refers back to Leadbelly, but you also see just how much Johnny Cash used it for I Got Stripes. Always Lift Him Up gets me to thinking about Blind Alfred Reed. It is a pity, though, that there are only 34 tracks: next time, how about a 4 cd box set ? You could have Ry's session work aith Ali Farke Toure, Clarence Gatemouth Brown, John Lee Hooker, Captain Beefheart, Johnny Cash, The Buena Vista Social Club, and others. You could have some concert recordings like Showtime: it would, definitely, not to be difficult to full 4 cds
on 1 November 2016
Ry Cooder's always interesting, though rarely fluent (with the exception of his take on Elvis Presley's "Little Sister"). There are more of his noodly instrumentals than there need be, but this is a good collection.
on 12 January 2014
If you judged by Paris, Texas, or Billy the Kid, you would have to think Ry Cooder was a genius and must have tons of great stuff in his back catalogue. But when you hear this compilaton you realise he isn't, and hasn't. Some of the tracks here - on a Best-Of which had his own involvement - can only be described as tripe. Cooder is, like Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton, an exceptional musician (I think I like his mandolin playing even more than the guitar) with little songwriting ability. Someone here says he can't sing - that's also true, yet somehow I prefer his own homespun vocals on some tracks to the people he gets in to sing for him on others.
I have a couple of early Cooder albums and like them a lot, but after this I won't be investigating any further.
on 10 December 2012
Lots of great music to enjoy including the music from and a number of film tracks, but the soundtrack from Paris, Texas is still favourite.
on 12 January 2014
My Dad had a tape which was swallowed by a cassette player; he was delighted with this replacement as it had the old songs, but a lot that he hadn't realised were Ry Cooder's.