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4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 14 September 2013
I don't quite get the generally luke warm reviews so far. To me this is a fine live CD. The sound quality on my system is pretty good, maybe not quite up to Live On Air standards but more than acceptable.

Ry and the band are in fine form and the recording gives you a front row seat experience. Highlights for me are Dark End of the Street, with great vocals from Terry Evans and Arnold McCuller and brilliant accordion as always from Flaco Jiminez. Of course Vigilante Man is Ry at his best with brilliant guitar. I also love the closer Good Night Irene which features some really beautiful interplay between Ry and Flaco. Vocally Ry seems to have improved with age compared to the Live on Air set.

The 10 piece horn section don't dominate the set , rather they compliment those songs they feature on.

Overall this is a very enjoyable disc, if you like live music then buy with confidence.
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on 11 September 2013
A bad Ry Cooder release be it a studio or live one isn't on the cards so far. I bought `live on air` a while back and really enjoyed it, especially on long car journeys. For me the winner is a really good `Dark End of the Street` `Schools Out` being a close second, whilst the others just feel `pedestrian`. It may well be a grower.
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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.
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on 17 September 2013
I love this album, as it rolls back the years to the string of lp,s and performances in the late 70,s and early 80,s there is a warmth to hearing Cooder, Jimenez, Evans and Mculler enjoying themselves as they roar through this set. I,m a fan i might be biased i might even be wrong, but i still love chicken skin music live and i,ve got a feeling that i,m going to be playing this for as couple of decades. Knocked a polnt of for the between songs "banter" which i,m already skipping through but the playing is peerless
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on 24 September 2013
For Cooder fans, this is a Must - a reunion with Flaco Jimenez, a play list covering (OK, parts of...) the Cooder catalogue, and newer stuff from the Pull Up Some Dust album. The sound quality is very good - clear and 'live': as you would have heard in the room, rather than 'direct-to-desk'. The mix is right: a DDD recording of a live event, audience and all - what would you expect?!!

As other reviewers have said: cracking versions of Crazy Bout An Automobile, La Corrida de Jesse James and Viglante Man - the last has the only extended slide solo on this album. Ry plays electric throughout, with a bit of crunch; mostly playing slide and fingerstyle mid-range rythmn parts, as in recent albums.

The Do Re Mi number (Track 5) is actually a replay of the 'Viva Sequin / Do Re Mi' medley from Ry's 1977 Showtime album, with Flaco. Juliette Commagere (who featured on the Chavin Ravin album) takes lead vocals on Volver Volver. Ry is in great voice; the band is variously tight and gloriously shambolic - exactly as they should be.

The packaging is a thin Digipack tri-fold, with full credits and a few photos; nothing to get excited about.

Bottom line? If you like how Ry Cooder does his stuff right now, you will love this. It's a good gig and a faithful live recording; joyful stuff - like being there on the night.
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on 10 September 2013
Any release by Ry Cooder is a cause for celebration and since his live releases have been pretty thin on the ground (well, legitimate ones anyway), this one has been eagerly awaited.

Thirty six years on from his last authorised live album "Showtime" it's a shame, given the immense catalogue that he had to choose from, that three of the songs from that record are duplicated this time around, "School Is Out" a particularly surprising choice.

Most satisfying is Cooder's lengthy, stripped-down revisiting of "Vigilante Man", where freed from the shackles of the large supporting ensemble he gets down to what he does best with some very tasty guitar work. "Crazy 'Bout An Automobile" is another standard that Cooder has long since made his own and there's nothing wrong with it here, although the definitive version of that tune is to be found in the all-too-rarely aired 1987 concert film of Ry Cooder and The Moula Banda Rhythm Aces in Santa Cruz, which is positively unhinged. (By the way, when is someone finally going to release an authorised high quality CD or DVD of that magnificent show?)

Juliette Commagere, whose seductive vocals have illuminated much of Cooder's recent work, delivers a disappointingly mechanical and soulless rendition of another Cooder perennial "Volver Volver" whilst "Goodnight Irene" is similarly lifeless. Give me Tom Waits' version any day.

Otherwise, it's the older material that fares best with "Do Re Mi" and "Boomer's Story" the pick of the bunch.

School is out. End of term report: "Good, but could have done better."
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on 28 November 2013
I'm a huge Ry Cooder fan, I'll admit that up front. So that means I am baised, but I adore this album.

For me it is great to hear Ry live again and on such good form with both voice and guitar.
The material spans his entire career (going right back to Boomer's Story from the 70's) but all songs are given a fresh treatment.
Great full, rich sound but perhaps a bit too much harsh sounding brass.
What strikes me most about this recording though is just how relaxed Cooder seems to be. He takes time to chat and joke with the audience which suggests that he is not as shy as he once was.
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on 13 September 2013
Ry's live releases are so few and far between grabbing this one as soon as it came out was a no-brainer. The artistry and musicianship is as always with Cooder of the highest quality and its great to hear him on new material with Flaco.
Sound quality however is very boomy and more than a little disappointing. Though not necessarily ruining the listening experience there's bootlegs with better sound. Bit of a shame but still worth shelling out for.
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on 8 October 2013
Really confused by peoples negative remarks about the sound quality of this recording ! I don't think I've heard a better live recording . I'm listening to the vinyl edition on my rega planar 3 turntable, and it sounds sublime!

Great concert, cracking set , and long overdue from my favourite guitar player . (Would be nice to have it on a DVD as well.)

Cooder sounds better than ever - especially vocally , as do Terry Evans and Arnold McCuller.

My only slight dissapointment is the absence of Jim Keltner on drums. No offence to Joachim (I like him too) but Jim brings a different dimension to Ry's playing and songs.

Small gripe, and I would have said this is absolutley essential to Ry Cooder fans . Buy it on Vinyl too !...
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on 20 March 2014
I rather like Live in San Francisco and it leaves me with the impression that it would have been great to be there! However as is often the case the difference between being there and listening to the recording leaves you with the feeling that those who were there on the night got the better end of the deal. But its not a bad album , Crazy 'bout an Automobile, Why Don't you Try Me and Boomer's Story are welcome old friends but this version of Dark End of the Street verges on the maudlin while Do Re Mi and School is Out are a bit ordinary and Volver Volver very ordinary indeed. This is not the case however with the Outlaw Jesse James ,Wooly Bully and a stand out, dark, stark, Vigilante Man. These three songs make it all worth while, but if you're not an initiate of the man this might not be the album to start you on the path to enlightenment.
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