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4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 20 August 2012
The dust has barely settled on Ry Cooder's acerbic last album, but he's back again spitting bile and pulling no punches in the run-up to the US presidential election, Mitt Romney and his Republicans the merciless target this time.

Given the speed of this follow-up, and its relatively short duration (9 tracks, 39 minutes) one suspects that some of this material may have been left over from last time; for example, "The Wall Street Part of Town" has already been in circulation for quite some months now.

Cooder's increasingly politicised stance may not suit all tastes, and at times he does come over a little preachy, but in strictly musical terms this is one of his best recent releases.

Production-wise it's much more stripped-down than of late; most of the usual Cooder stalwarts are absent this time. Cooder plays guitar, bass and mandolin with his usual aplomb, son Joachim plays drums and long-time Cooder loyalist Arnold McCuller contributes backing vocals to one track. The result is a sound and a feel harking back to Cooder's early-seventies work, and it's none the worse for that.

Despite the serious subject matter "Pull Up Some Dust..." contained some genuinely humorous moments, and Cooder's sense of mischief hasn't deserted him here either, witness "Mutt Romney Blues" told from the perspective of the Republican's canine. Possibly a cheap target, but it's another of those memorable dustbowl narratives that Cooder has rolled off with almost effortless ease for over forty years.

"Kool Aid" is perhaps the joker in the pack, its sinister and moody backing track drawing on Cooder's vast movie soundtrack oeuvre. Elsewhere, Cooder touches many of his familiar musical bases and whilst it's unlikely to be regarded as one of his seminal releases it's a refreshingly listenable body of work, even if history eventually judges it to be very much of its time.

If only our English party political broadcasts were half as much fun as this.
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Ry's latest record carries on from where his last, `Pull up some dust and sit down', left off - both lyrically and musically as Ry bemoans the current state of politics in the US in the run up to the forthcoming Presidential election. Ry came to fame as a supreme `guitar technician' reinterpreting old folk and R&B but his last four records have seen him concentrating on writing his own songs to express his political views . At times I find these views a bit naïve and over-simplified, and in the case of "Mitt Romney Blues" and "Cold cold feeling" I felt the lyrics were a bit clunky and detracted from the music. However, they are obviously heartfelt and when they work, as in the majority of the songs here, they combine with the music to give added gravitas and grit, with swipes at Sarah Palin, the Tea Party, the N.R.A. and even Romney's Latter Day Saints. I don't think that Ry will be voting Republican any time soon!

Again we have a mix of Guthrie-esque Cannery Row-style folk blues together with harder-edged electric blues, with Ry playing all the instruments himself with just son Joachim helping out on the drums and Arnold McCuller singing harmony vocals on the final track. Indeed I think that Joachim really comes of age here, really driving the up-tempo tracks and adding subtle contributions to the more folky songs. Fans of Ry's electric blues slide guitar will love the rocking "The Wall Street side of town", "Guantanamo" and "Kool-Aid", while "Cold, cold feeling" probably has Ry's most bluesy slide for years, very much in the Elmore James style. The gentle "The 90 and the 9" sounds like an out take from "My name is Buddy", as does the haunting "Brother is gone" and "Going to Tampa" has some really nice mandolin, like a throwback to `Paradise and lunch'.

I really liked `Pull up some dust and sit down' and this is almost as good, it was great to hear Ry's blues slide guitar again (both acoustic and electric) even if the music again seems to play second fiddle to the lyrics. My only criticism is that with 9 tracks clocking it at just over 40 minutes it is a bit short - perhaps Ry should have saved the excellent "John Lee Hooker for President" for this album. Although Cooder is sometimes portrayed as the Victor Meldrew of rock, I like his outspokenness and perhaps his grumpiness is understandable when the US has politicians like George Bush and Mitt Romney...
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on 15 September 2012
After first listen nothing stood out as special, but after a few plays and careful listening to the lyrics I am once again delighted with Ry & Joachim's virtuosity.
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on 14 September 2012
I have been a fan of Ry Cooder from the earliest - I have everything
he's done and still listen to it regularly, particularly in my
workshop. In my opinion he's at his best when playing material
closer to his roots - I was not so keen on "Buddy" or, going
back a few years, "The Slide Area" - even so, he can do no
wrong, so this latest will join an impressive body of work
from one of the most significant players of the last 100 years.
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on 24 September 2012
This is Ry Cooder back to his early style of singing/writing/playing and is a great CD especially if like me you really into the "original" Ry Cooder. At first I listened to the music rather than the words but after a few plays I'm getting into the lyrics, which again are typical of Cooders early stuff, brought up to date for the topic of this CD.
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on 22 August 2012
Understated, nailed-on, stripped-down guitar workout from the best there's ever been. Stand out tracks - well, just about all of them, (although I do have a soft spot for the gentle reference in '90 and the 9' to those ageing musicians who ripped him off in the past and haven't really delivered since). Joachim Cooder's percussive talents seem to grow with each new album while the great man's subtle mastery of every stringed instrument he picks up continues to amaze. Can't see anyone voting Republican after this.
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on 17 September 2012
Forget all the negative reviews and comments Cooder as always been political witty and aserbic and the folk who think he hasn't just haven't listened to the same Ryland Cooder that I have.

On this one Cooder is back to his early muse commenting joking and taking on the way of the world.

His playing is as usual stellar stuff and the production second to none. Great Album........thanks RY.
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on 22 September 2012
This is a superb, rocking album, with strong melodies and singing. Ry's voice has really strengthened in recent years and his delivery, mostly in a blues style, is spot on. As ever, his guitar playing and arrangements are brilliant. Most of all, the political message, anger and commitment, are conveyed with conviction and humour. A worthy follow up to the trilogy of Chavez Ravine, Buddy and I Flathead.
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I appear to be one of the few reviewers who feel equally comfortable reviewing any political album, irrespective of whether it supports the left or the right. Maybe this is because I've seen enough that no political ideology has all the answers, and I don't have the answers either. I therefore find it interesting to hear all the viewpoints, even though I disagree with some of them. Here, Ry Cooder points out plenty of problems as he sees them. He clearly feels passionate about politics, but like the rest of us, he does not have the solutions.

Musically, I would describe this as a folk-blues album in which Ry Cooder sings in a nearly-speaking style. His prowess as a musician sometimes shows through, but if you really want to hear Ry Cooder the musician, you have to go back to the earlier albums that he recorded before he decided to focus on political music. This reminds me that I should re-acquaint myself with Chicken skin music, which I haven't heard for over 30 years.

Ry Cooder spends a lot of the album attacking the Republicans, beginning with the opening song in which he sings the part of Mitt Romney's dog. Judging by the references in four songs to Jim Crow (Brother in song, Cold, cold feeling. Going to Tampa, Take your hands off it), it appears that he thinks the Republicans would like to return to a time when blacks and whites lived segregated lives in America.

Committed Democrat voters will probably love the sentiments expressed here, but I doubt if it's the kind of album that would convince an undecided voter that they should vote Democrat. The one thing missing from this album is a song that offers hope for the future. Nevertheless, this is still an enjoyable album.
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on 8 October 2012
Great follow up to pull up some dust. First five tracks spot on. Ry confirms his status as a true heir to Woody
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